Tesla Model S fire subject of unofficial NHTSA investigation

It looks like the feds are going to finally look into that Tesla Model S car-b-que near Seattle. Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it may start an investigation into why that metal object that struck a Model S in Kent, Washington (about 20 miles south of Seattle) caused the EV to catch fire, the San Francisco Chronicle says, citing NHTSA's David Strickland. NHTSA would've gotten to it earlier except for that pesky partial-government shutdown that furloughed about 800,000 government workers earlier this month.

Tesla has gone on record as saying that the incident, which didn't injure the driver, was more or less a freak accident of "doomsday" proportions. Tesla chief Elon Musk said the piece of metal in question had to have been kicked up at a force equal to 25 tons in order to put the three-inch-diameter hole in the metal plate running along the bottom of the sedan. Musk said on the company blog earlier this month that gas-powered cars are five times more likely to catch fire than the Tesla, metal debris be damned.

Tesla shares are down about 15 percent since September 30, the day before the car fire. That's about $365 million worth of market value that's gone up in smoke. You can see a video of the fire here.

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