If you have a burning desire to own an electric care, perhaps Tesla Motors is the way to go. The luxury electric car model S has suffered its third fire in five weeks and people are calling for a federal investigation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “absolutely has to investigate” Wednesday’s Tennessee incident, Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, based in Washington, said in a telephone interview.
A Model S driver struck a tow hitch in the middle of a lane on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tenn., damaging the car’s undercarriage and causing the fire, Dalya Qualls, a Tennessee Highway Patrol spokeswoman, said in an email. The driver was able to pull the car over and was uninjured, Qualls said.
NHTSA declined to investigate the Model S fire in Washington state in October, the first such reported blaze, in which metal debris was involved.
“It appears there’s inadequate shielding on the bottom of these vehicles,” Ditlow said. “Road debris is a known hazard to the undercarriage of vehicles.”
The U.S. agency “will contact the local authorities who are looking into the incident to determine if there are vehicle safety implications that merit agency action,” Karen Aldana, a spokeswoman for NHTSA, said in an e-mail.
Tesla was the darling of the green set, and a popular choice in Wall Street, but disappointing sales results and the recent fires have driven its stock price down. On Thursday Tesla’s stock price fell for the third consecutive day closing at $139.91. That was
down $11.25, or 7.4%, for the previous day’s close. Since Tesla
announced its third-quarter earnings after trading hours Tuesday, the
stock as dropped 20.9%
And there are more problems on the horizon for the electric automaker. Car shopping website Edmunds.com said its 2013 Model S was “making an
ominous noise under acceleration and deceleration. It originates from
the rear of the car and seems to be getting worse.”
It is a complaint that’s also starting to show up on Tesla’s owners forum, an online discussion group hosted by the automaker for drivers of its cars.
“Mine had that and it got bad at 70 mph,” said one owner, posting under the “mortgagebruce” moniker.
He said Tesla had to replace the drive unit twice to fix the problem.
Tesla also replaced the drive unit on the Edmunds car, but declined to tell the company what caused the problem. It also replaced the driver door mechanism because of another problem. The car has just less than 11,000 miles on the road.
In recent months many auto manufacturers such as Nissan and Toyota have announced they are moving away from the electric market, choosing to rely on hybrids and the traditional combustion motor. The exception to the is GM who’s Chevy Volt, which had its own fire problems, whos production is “mandated” by the Obama administration despite it failing sales.
Clearly the electric car is an idea who’s time has not yet come.