By James R. Hood
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced earlier this week that it was opening a preliminary evaluation into battery fires in the $90,000 battery-powered Tesla S luxury car, It got a yawn from experienced safety advocates and reporters who routinely cover the NHTSA beat. It is, after all, what safety agencies do — investigate safety issues.
“The NHTSA investigation is the best way Tesla has to insure the safety of the Model S and restore consumer confidence,” Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said. “Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, the Tesla fires occurred on the road and not in the lab. Unlike the Volt, the Tesla had three fires not one. Tesla needs to fully cooperate with NHTSA to determine the problem is lack of a shield and not a more serious battery problem like the Boeing Dreamliner.”