Despite earlier reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it will not be filing a formal investigation into the fire that engulfed a Tesla Model S earlier this month, as the agency says there was no evidence to suggest the fire was due to a manufacturer defect or that the car was in violation of government-mandated safety standards, according to Automotive News.

The NHTSA's decision whether to investigate was delayed, as the fire happened on the first day of the US government shutdown. AN reports that as of October 22, the administration was still "gathering data," according to a statement by Administrator David Strickland.

The October 1 fire that torched the critically acclaimed EV was started after an impact with a "large metallic object," according to multiple sources including the driver/owner. As we reported on October 3, despite the car-destroying blaze, Tesla maintained that the battery pack acted exactly as designed, by containing the blaze to just one of the battery pack's 16 modules, rather than sending the whole lithium-ion unit up in flames.

Following the fire, Tesla went on a PR offensive with CEO Elon Musk claiming, "You are five times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla!" In a report just days after the incident, the company said the fire was started by "a highly unlikely occurrence." The owner of the cooked Model S (and an investor in the company), meanwhile, said he remains a fan of the car.


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  • 69 Comments
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      Freak accidents happen, such this gas-powered car destroyed by running over a piece of cardboard in the road: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=25850334 In an ICE car, the debris that took out the Model S in the article might have missed the fuel tank and simply punched a 3" diameter hole in the passenger compartment; instead, it lodged in the Model S' battery, never penetrating the firewall but causing the fire. Similarly, in a smooth-underbodied EV like the Model S, the piece of cardboard that destroyed the car in the link above might never have lodged there and ignited from friction, as appears to have been the case (there doesn't appear to have been a federal investigation there, either...conspiracy theorists, speculate away). Given the choice, I would rather be in the car with the full-length ceramic cloth firewall that can withstand over 2000F, compartmentalized 'fuel tank', larger crumple zones, and a lower rollover risk due to its lower center of gravity.
      Nick Kordich
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think there should be an investigation: are we seeing dozens of people who don't know how to spell, capitalize or use basic punctuation flooding this car blog with the same political bias and conspiracy theory, or just one person using dozens of accounts?
        William Flesher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick Kordich
        It certainly looks like a pattern. Trolling happens. Poor writing happens. Automotive ignorance happens. And when keywords like "Tesla" or "Tea Party" are included in an Autoblog headline, they all seem to converge into some sort of idiot fantasia of tragic one-line jokes, posturing, and angry paranoia. Regardless of anyone's political or social beliefs, Tesla has managed to design, finance and produce a big high-performance sedan right here in America, and even the staid and numbers obsessed Consumer Reports calls it the best performing car they have ever tested. Those still calling it a "pos socialist car" are more interested in political posturing than they are about DRIVING.
      Tag
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm amazed at how many post opinions with little or now factual knowledge. If there is a system fault with all electrics, I'd sure like to know. I drive a Nissan Leaf. Although I was a skeptic, I purchased one anyway and after a full year of driving am now a fan. It drives like a regular car, has a top speed of 94 mph (verified at our private airstrip) get's about 100 miles on a charge without heater running, takes 40 min on rapid and 6 hrs on our 220 at home. Individual and changeable cells make up the main battery. It has to be the greatest second car I've ever owned. Longer trips are made with our Prius. I don't pay any road taxes as I don't consume Gasoline which means that some other families car get's my share and possibly will help drive down the cost of it. We have more than 250 free charging stations throughout Western Washington and more coming. So far I'm pretty satisfied. It's not for every one but knowing what I know, I'd buy another.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Making a mountain out of a mole hill.
      Bruce Lee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Every car can catch fire, this is plain silliness. One Tesla ever catches fire and everyone loses their minds when Ferraris regularly flambe themselves. Plain ridiculousness.
      Jeff Gilleran
      • 1 Year Ago
      To consider they are STILL messing with this topic is myopic and silly. There is nothing odd about this event other than a Piece of metal falls off a truck, and being the hard material it is, pierces the Battery pack armor plate, damages several Lithium Ion cells and the resulting oxygen causes the pack to catch fire.. albeit very slowly. Its like someone is just looking for an excuse to muddy the Model S waters where there is no dirt to muddy it up. The product is quite good, and will get even better in the years to come. And everyone that has mentioned how many gasoline vehicle fires there are per year.. Yep.. nothing to see here either. Its as common place as toilet paper and idiots.
      GR
      • 1 Year Ago
      I agree with NHTSA. Why waste tax payer money to investigate ONE isolated fire? It's not a pattern, a trend, or a series of events with Tesla cars. It's ONE incident following an impact from debris. Even the owner of this very car that burned did not fault or lose faith in Tesla. This is really not worthy of the attention it got.
        DKano
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        Exactly, the other of the car that burned down said he was going to get another Model S.
      scott3
      • 1 Year Ago
      I do not see any big deal here or government cover up or denial. That stuff never happens anymore with the honest people we have in office. Anyways to be fair this may have just been a simple programing issue in the Tesla that did not let the program shut the electric off in case of an accident. I am sure the Obama people may have a good programmer to suggest to help.
        Daniel D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @scott3
        To be witty you have to have a grain of truth in your discussion and it has to be on the topic. Trying to link an electric vehicle accident to a US President who does at drive or make electric cars and a public health care system is a fail.
      hdprent
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unbelievable that so much ado about nothing. The vehicle had a piece of iron ,off the highway, pierce the 1/4 inch battery covering. The car told the driver to pull over and get out, which he did. The fire department poured water on the electric fire, mistake , never water on electric fire. Only the front portion of the car burned , The entire passenger compartment was not effected and remained safe. I don't believe one could get a better or safer car. Again more false info to destroy the best car in the world and protect the oil company's interests.
        Egon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @hdprent
        hsprent, your assumption is incorrect. Extinguishment with conventional firefighting methods is the recommended course of action: "If the high-voltage battery becomes involved in fire...use large amounts of water to cool the battery". A conventional firefighting handline can deliver upwards of 150 GPM and easily qualifies as 'large amounts of water' This is clearly stated in the Tesla ERG (Emergency Response Guide). It's on Page 18 if you'd like to look it up yourself.
        Gary
        • 1 Year Ago
        @hdprent
        I am just reading this article like you but I feel it's suspicious. Even if it is only what you think it is a fire in an electric car after a simple fender bender type accident should cause some public safety concern. I am all for new technology but it has to be safe. An accident of that type involving a collision with a gasoline powered car might have been a different story with a potentially tragic ending.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @hdprent
        You should read Musk's blog entry where he says putting water on was the right move.
      dale
      • 1 Year Ago
      Republicans and Darryl Issa want an investigation. . because they hate the sun and the earth
        marxjgm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dale
        or is it because they love you, and don't want to see you chicken fried.
      lacabrera
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is our government ,green dream and it got a lot of money riding on this ,do you really think that anyone in the administration want to make Obama look bad ,again !
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lacabrera
        yeah.... and the September 11 attack was planned by George Bush so he could use it as an excuse to attack Iraq. LOL BTW did you take your meds today?
      beaslbob
      • 1 Year Ago
      What would you expect? Afterall this is the government's green dream thingie.
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