Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive of Tesla Motors Inc., expressed confidence that the Model S sedan would not be recalled. However, such recall may occur if the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decides to start a defect investigation following three fire occurrences in five weeks involving the Model S.
Such probe might start if the agency found that the fires were caused by any defects on Tesla’s electric car. "There's no Pinto moment here," remarked Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, referring to the Ford car recall in the 1970s following gasoline fires that led to fatalities.
He added that NHTSA may look at the Tesla fires and conclude that “it's actually not that bad." The first fire involving a Tesla Model S occurred on Oct. 1, 2013 in Washington state, in which the vehicle struck a piece of metal on the road.
NHTSA said on Oct. 24 that it found no evidence the first fire was a result of defects or violations of US safety standards. The second fire occurred on Oct. 18, 2013 in Mexico following a crash. The third fire occurred in Smyrna, Tennessee last week after its driver said he ran over a trailer hitch loose in the road at 70 mph.
Just two months ago, the Tesla Model S received the top five-star rating in each category of the NHTSA crash tests. Musk remarked to Bloomberg in New York that Tesla is in constant contact with regulators at NHTSA. He remarked that the agency has “real problems to deal with where people die or are seriously injured,” adding that NHTSA’s time is preoccupied with those concerns, “not with fictional issues created by the media."