Tesla adds titanuim panels to Model S to prevent fires, NHTSA closes inquiry
By Nick Jaynes — March 28, 2014
Looks like Tesla has dodged a bullet … or, rather, another roadway object.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officially closed its investigation in to the Tesla Model S, after the upstart EV automaker announced it has begun adding titanium underbody battery shields to its cars beginning this month.
The upgraded underbody protection is a response to safety concerns raised after several Model S burned to the ground late last year. The fires were all linked to collisions with objects in the road, which punctured the front-mounted battery packs.
Immediately after the first few incidents Tesla sent out a software upgrade, which raised the vehicle suspension ride height at highway speeds. Despite this move, the NHTSA launched an inquiry into the safety of the luxury EVs.
“In this case, Tesla’s revision of vehicle ride height and addition of increased underbody protection should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk. A defect trend has not been identified. Accordingly, the investigation is closed,” the NHSTA said in a release, according to Automotive News.
In a characteristic show of braggadocio, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk followed the NTHSA announcement with a few statements of his own: “With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla,” Musk wrote. “The addition of the underbody shields simply takes it a step further.”
According to Tesla, Model S owners whose vehicles were built before March 5th, 2014 can have the auxiliary titanium protectors added if they wish.
Will this solve all of Tesla’s fire issues? We’ll have to wait and see. Should anything happen, however, we’ll be sure to bring it to you.