The Tesla Model S is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after three of the models caught fire; two of the electric cars impacted debris on the road, and one was involved in a single-car accident. This much we know for sure. Just exactly how the investigation came to be, though, is up for debate.

According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the California-based automaker requested that the government safety agency open the investigation, saying in a blog post, "We have requested that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conduct a full investigation as soon as possible into the fire incidents. While we think it is highly unlikely, if something is discovered that would result in a material improvement in occupant fire safety, we will immediately apply that change to new cars and offer it as a free retrofit to all existing cars."

Not so fast, counters NHTSA head David Strickland. Speaking to The Detroit News, Strickland had this to say: "Investigations are independent... We have never ... actually had an automaker ask for a formal investigation, but it causes a couple of implications: If a manufacturer asks me or asks the agency for a formal investigation, you've already made a determination that you may have a defect that imposes an unreasonable risk to safety. ... I don't think that would ever happen."

It's important to remember that there were no serious injuries (let alone deaths) in any of the three Model S fires. Regardless of whether Tesla requested NHTSA's involvement or not, the fact remains that the Model S is being investigated, and we're all keenly interested to see the results.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 99 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Elon, I can't un-see your nipples.
      Devin
      • 1 Year Ago
      My guess is that they heard an investigation might happen or they were notified that an investigation would be occurring and then replied by "asking" for a full investigation as soon as possible. Likely just a bit of word play with the timing. They may have asked, but they likely asked after it was apparent the investigation was going to happen regardless.
      m_2012
      • 1 Year Ago
      I say let it ride lower at highway speeds. Increased range and you can hit the trailer hitch, knocking it around for someone with a gas tank to hit.
      quailallstar
      • 1 Year Ago
      Poor Nikola Tesla must be rolling over in his grave. His last name is attached to such a shitty company with even shittier leadership.
        Majerus
        • 1 Year Ago
        @quailallstar
        @quailallstar what a joke.
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @quailallstar
        And what have you done with your life that allows you to feel superior to these people?
      Zaki
      • 1 Year Ago
      What great confidence this immature guy must inspire in the people who buy his cars or stock in the company!! The fanboys should just load up on this great, wonderful, miracle stock now...... What a lying A$$.
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zaki
        I know, unlike David Strickland who is completely confidence inspiring. You can just see intelligence and gravitas eminating from this guy. http://www.nhtsa.gov/Administrator
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Zaki
        [blocked]
      npier598
      • 1 Year Ago
      "We have never ... actually had an automaker ask for a formal investigation, but it causes a couple of implications: If a manufacturer asks me or asks the agency for a formal investigation, you've already made a determination that you may have a defect that imposes an unreasonable risk to safety. ... I don't think that would ever happen." Hey Strickland-- it doesn't necessarily mean the requestor has made a determination of a defect. It's called a strategic, preemptive move in an attempt to quell unreasonable and unfounded hysteria that's calling into question the safety of the Model S and electric cars in general. But bureaucrat hacks like you can't comprehend such smart, unconventional thinking.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @npier598
        If an automaker wants to make a strategic, preemptive move they can investigate themselves and release it themselves. An automaker asking NHTSA to investigate their problems for them to make them look better seems strange. To allow this would basically allow automakers to ask NHTSA to spend taxpayer money on a PR campaign for the automaker. That would be complete nonsense.
          Brent Jatko
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          It doesn't seem strange to me at all. The NHTSA is a governmental body and therefore an impartial observer. I agree with you that investigation and promotion is not NHTSA's primary function, but I view this action as Elon Musk standing behind his product.
          npier598
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Think about what you're suggesting. With the way the media is covering this, a Tesla led investigation would only add fuel to the fire. They need someone the public *perceives* as impartial conducting the investigation, otherwise they'll be accused of a big cover up.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          "The NHTSA is a governmental body and therefore an impartial observer. " Then why is everyone so reluctant to believe the head administrator's sworn testimony to Congress?
        Bryant Keith
        • 1 Year Ago
        @npier598
        If that was your goal you would say that you were not afraid of the findings, not ask for it. Either way it didn't actually happen like that at all, it was just a store of usual BS generated by the media.
          SteveG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Why not ask for it? People do that sort of thing all the time, if you think you will be found blameless investigations are fine. The PR boost from telling them to "Bring it" and coming out fine is worth it.
          npier598
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Correct, you wouldn't be afraid of the findings. But you'd also insist these bureaucrat clowns get the investigation moving as quickly as possible. Tesla has a lot of skin in this game while the NHTSA has none.
      telm12345
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think some of you are also failing to realize how smart this is. He is basically saying, "hey, if we have a problem, test the crap out of it on YOUR DIME and let us know if there's really an issue." He's got two wins here - 1) He shows his full confidence in the product and 2) If someone wants to spend money helping his company figure out issues at zero cost to him, why not?
        mbukukanyau
        • 1 Year Ago
        @telm12345
        That is not what he is saying, he is trying to pull a PR stunt to make his company look good. The thing is though Tesla is not the first company to have a Lithium Ion problem, there has been HP and Boing before. The CEO's over there did not try to spin things, they called internal meetings and solved the technological problems. Perhaps Tesla can borrow from GM. The battery chemistry in the Model S reacts and generates a peak heat at 275 degrees C / min. The Volt's battery chemistry reacts at a peak of 2.5 deg. C/min and the Spark EV chemistry peaks at 3.5 deg. C/min. So you can see Tesla uses a much more volatile battery chemistry than GM. This is a technological problem not a PR problem. Musk should focus on that aspect. Further a Huge Investment by GM went into thermal management of their batteries for the Volt and the Spark EV. their approach seems more reasonable for the consumer than the Hyped version of Tesla and to a certain extent Nissan, picking laptop batteries and packing them in cells is not a good approach. There is also a good reason Boeing turned down Tesla's offer to 'help' with thier dreamliner battery problem turning to GM instead and Ford. http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130307/BIZ/703079888
          m_2012
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mbukukanyau
          @thereminator - Can you point to source? I fail to find anything about structural problems anywhere.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mbukukanyau
          So the chemistry is more volatile. That's why Tesla has designed their pack to deal with it. This is the same as saying that gasoline is more prone to fire than ethanol. So every gas car must switch to ethanol since it is safer. No one has been hurt in a Model S. The car is safe. What we're investigating is how much the press is playing this up as dangerous. It might have been coincidence that two cars hit large metal objects in similar ways leading to a pack fire. It doesn't change the fact that in both cases the car notified the driver and they were able to walk away safely.
          mbukukanyau
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mbukukanyau
          @Grendal Jeez, i wonder why these Tesla's are catching fire.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mbukukanyau
          It depends on what your point is. Is it safety? If so then whatever Tesla has done works. If it is to prevent fire under any circumstance then Tesla needs to do more. But then what are gas cars around for? The statistics show that they catch fire all the time. It's all relative to what you are after. Is there room for improvement in the Model S? I'm sure even Tesla and Elon would say there was. When it comes to safety, Tesla and Elon are saying that they are. The facts and history proves them right so far. There have been no deaths and no serious injuries in a Model S. The fires happened and no one was hurt. That is the important thing.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @mbukukanyau
          Therm was being sarcastic. Structural failure meaning they were involved in accidents. An accident should never be allowed to happen.
        Porsche4life
        • 1 Year Ago
        @telm12345
        At Telm12345 Couldn't of said it better. You said exactly what was on my mind thank you.
      Joel Bilodeau
      • 1 Year Ago
      suprised more people don't find elon to be an arrogant *******...
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joel Bilodeau
        Seriously? Musk's confident, Strickland's arrogant.
          sparky
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          elon's spin and arrogance regarding all of these accidents and fires is disgusting. Musk has been spinning tales ever since the Model S has come out. He would have been smarter just letting the car sell itself rather than these poorly written statements.
          jeff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          To quote Dizzy Dean. "It aint bragging if you can do it...."
        Bernard
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joel Bilodeau
        He probably is arrogant, but he's a genius so he gets a pass.
      telm12345
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does this have to be a fight? What I see, is a CEO who's taking responsibility and saying "please, test and find any issues, and if there are any we will be sure to fix them." Even if not, it doesn't change the fact that he formally announced that he WANTS to take responsibility. What is the argument about here? He's too good? Too fair? What's the deal? What would you expect him to do? A car, even a Tesla, has thousands of parts. You cannot test every single part. Things go wrong all the time with manufacturers of anything and everything. From cars to planes to coffee makers and toasters, things go wrong that no one expects. It just happens. Take this a step further, this is technology that no one else has been able to make viable. No one. Not the Leaf, not the Prius nor the Volt. He made it quite safe, but this is unchartered waters. This is innovation. Don't have to like the product, but at least someone is still innovating with huge impact. Don't like him, that's okay, but deal with it. NASA calls HIM when they need a shuttle - 'nuff said.
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        @telm12345
        Why? Because Strickland feels the need to look like the alpha dog here despite the fact he's a bureaucrat hack.
          JakeY
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          @throwback That's just the normal "in the box" bureaucrat thinking. But it's clear Tesla's motive in requesting a NHTSA investigation is mainly for PR (they said as much in the blog), not because they feel there is a real safety issue. Similarly Tesla's move to cover fires under warranty is completely different than what any other automaker would be doing.
          npier598
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          @throwback: Strickland simply didn't think past the obvious. It doesn't necessarily mean the requestor has made a determination of a defect. It's called a strategic, preemptive move in an attempt to quell unreasonable and unfounded hysteria that's calling into question the safety of the Model S and electric cars in general. But bureaucrat hacks like him can't comprehend such smart, unconventional thinking.
          throwback
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          Strickland simply answered a question that was asked. This comment seems reasonable to me; "If a manufacturer asks me or asks the agency for a formal investigation, you've already made a determination that you may have a defect that imposes an unreasonable risk to safety. ."
          Ron
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          Well said npier
          jeff
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          When he was asked he might not have been aware of Elon's request.. This is the simplest and most likely the best answer...
      Car Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Musk's big mouth is doing nothing but getting the company into more trouble. He's already knocked heads with the safety agency in the past and now he's throwing down a challenge asking them to investigate the cars because he's so confident they will find nothing wrong. What he doesn't realize is his standard and the government's standard of what is defective might be very different. Getting into a public peeing match with government authorities who can order you to perform a recall that could cost 10's of millions (and loads more bad press) is a real stupid idea.
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Car Guy
        Musk's confident they'll find nothing wrong but fully ready to comply if they do. He recognizes the magnitude of what's at stake here and that he can't just stand idly by while bureaucrats and media hacks destroy his product's credibility. Oh and by the way, Strickland made this a "peeing match", not Musk. Brilliant move on Tesla's part.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @npier598
          Strickland was asked during testimony to Congress. Do you think he lied?
      npier598
      • 1 Year Ago
      Strickland, go blow some hot air on a treadmill rather than on drivel like this. Win-win.
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      The reason Tesla could not be telling the truth is very simple, the law requires you to recall your vehicles the moment you discover that there is grounds for an investigation, according to NHTSA spokes person. Further, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland told a House panel Tuesday that Tesla didn’t request an investigation and that the agency had made an independent decision to open an investigation into 13,100 Model S vehicles after two battery fires were reported since early October in the United States. So the investigation opened in October after the Second fire. There is clear evidence that Tesla has a truth problem. They also claimed earlier that the agency said their Car was the safest car ever tested, something NHTSA denied to have said.
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