Third Tesla Model S catches fire after hitting road debris. Photo via Twitter user @NASHVILLAIN_Enlarge Photo
It's been quite a month for Tesla Motors and its CEO, Elon Musk.
In the wake of three fires in Model S electric luxury sedans, a tsunami of media coverage about those fires, and a falling stock price--which may or may not be directly related--the company went on the offensive yesterday.
Musk posted a long message on the company's website, saying that Tesla was taking three separate actions to address the fires and the public perceptions of Model S safety.
First, he wrote, the company will update the software on Model S cars to increase their ride height at highway speeds. The goal is to reduce the potential severity of underbody impacts from road debris--which is thought to be the cause of at least two of the three fires.
Tesla Model S fire near Smyrna, Tennessee, Nov 2013 (image: Instagram - Davanh)Enlarge Photo
Second, Musk said Tesla requested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate the fires as soon as possible.
This would have been a smart move.
Unfortunately, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland told a House panel today that, in fact, Tesla had not made such a request.
According to The Detroit News, Strickland said his agency made an independent decision to investigate 13,100 Model S cars on U.S. roads.
Finally, Musk wrote, Tesla will expand its Model S warranty to cover all damage from any vehicle fires.
The note from Musk contains the following phrase, one perhaps never before issued by any automaker: "Unless a Model S owner actively tries to destroy the car, they are covered."
This one too seems like a smart move, as a kind of insurance policy that very few owners will ever have to take advantage of.
There will undoubtedly be more to come in the ever-evolving Tesla saga--but that's today's update.
What's your reaction to all the Tesla drama?
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