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Tesla's Elon Musk: Model S Fires Overhyped, Car Is Safe

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2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Recent fires of Tesla Model S electric cars aren't worrying the company's CEO, Elon Musk--at least publicly.

In a recent CNBC interview (via Forbes), the Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] founder said reports of the fires were little more than an overreaction by the press--and that Tesla's cars are still the safest vehicles on the road.

While you might think, "of course he'd say that", Musk has a point--not a single person was injured in any of the three Model S fires so far, nor in any other Model S accident reported since the car went on sale.

The statistics also back up Musk's claims--three fires in quick succession doesn't affect the overall figure, which is just one fire in every 8,000 vehicles sold. The industry average is closer to one fire from every 1,300 vehicles--five times higher.

Speaking at the Dealbook conference in New York on Tuesday, Musk suggested that you'd still struggle to find a car with lower fire risk than the Model S, and that "headlines are very deceiving".

He also played down the most dramatic accident so far, that of the Mexican car which caught fire in mid-October. The kinetic energy of that crash was four times higher than average, he said--and that despite its tires being ripped off, skidding along on its belly and hitting a concrete wall, all passengers walked from the incident unharmed.

Musk did admit that there may well be a car out there which is as safe as the Model S... but no car is safer as no car on the roads has the zero injury or death record that Tesla still maintains.

Tesla Model S in flames near Kent, Washington [frame from YouTube video]

Tesla Model S in flames near Kent, Washington [frame from YouTube video]

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There's still much left unanswered about the Model S's fire risk compared to other vehicles, including the risk of vehicles suffering similar road debris incidents to the first and third fires, and to what extent the Tesla battery pack itself is responsible for the fires.

In the meantime, Valuewalk reports, Tesla is replacing the cars of those affected in accidents "as quickly as possible"--and Musk notes that each driver has held nothing but praise for the cars, the Mexican owner owing the car his life following its violent end.

Will there be any recalls? Not for the forseeable future--and Musk is adamant that the cars would be recalled if any aspect was affecting their safety.

Tesla's lofty stock price might have dropped 17 percent since November 4 as a result of the fire news, but Tesla's CEO has a message regarding that, too: the company's long-term value will be "well in excess" of its price today.

The subtext? It's business as usual at Tesla Motors. Nothing to see here, folks...

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