On the heels of three separate fires involving the Tesla Model S, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced its intention to look into the matter to determine if the incidents are indicative of an underlying safety issue.
The CEO of Tesla claims that it was his company that actually requested that the NHTSA conduct this investigation, an assertion that the NHTSA denied in an update to the original Los Angeles Times story linked to above. He explained that such a move can be used to counter the claim that these vehicles are unsafe, a belief that he thinks could delay the widespread adoption of climate-friendly automobiles. He also claimed that the threat of a fire is less than that of a gasoline-fueled vehicle.
Although three fires have thus far been reported in association with Model S vehicles, the NHTSA will only be looking at two of those because one of the fires broke out in Mexico. The agency will be analyzing whether the battery casing at the bottoms of these vehicles is designed in a manner that would make the electric automobiles more susceptible to a blaze.
At the same time that the NHTSA carries out this investigation, an update will be sent out to Model S vehicles that will purportedly allow them to rise higher off the ground when a certain speed is reached, thus limiting exposure of the undercarriage to potential harm.