As federal investigators announced a formal safety probe Tuesday, fledgling electric car maker Tesla Motors is getting a quick lesson in what it’s like to be treated like a big, mainstream automaker.
The crisis over two reported battery fires on its acclaimed Model S sedan comes at a difficult time for the company, which is trying to keep the momentum going after impressive sales, profitable quarters and a seesawing stock price this year. Instead of letting the probe simply unfold, CEO Elon Musk quickly fired off blog posts and tweets to defend the car and aggressively address the fire issue.
Brash as always, he wrote that Tesla has invited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to fully examine its cars. NHTSA shot back in a statement that it doesn’t work by invitation. “NHTSA’s decision to open any formal investigation is an independent process,” the agency said, adding that it followed standard procedure.