Federal watchdog investigates Tesla fires

When shopping for a new or used vehicle, many Boston area residents prioritize safety. In some cases, however, even a model with great safety ratings and reviews proves to have some defects. Lately, it has seemed like automakers are issuing recalls almost every day due to dangerous defects. At best, automotive defects are a hassle. At worst, defects lead to car accidents and injuries.

Owners of electric cars may have heard that the National Highway Traffic Administration has opened a probe into Tesla’s Model S electric car to learn whether the vehicle is prone to battery fires.

The safety agency is investigating two incidents of Model S fires that involved roadway debris puncturing the bottom of the car, causing the battery to ignite. The batteries in these models are mounted underneath the passenger area.

In both of the recent incidents, the drivers were able to escape their vehicles without injury.

The investigators are concerned that the vehicle may be vulnerable to fires due to its design.

It is unclear at this point whether the investigation will ultimately lead to a recall. If a recall does result, this would not be the first time that the design of a vehicle has proved defective. In some vehicles, high centers of gravity lead to rollover accidents, for example.

When people do suffer injuries in Massachusetts because of an auto defect, it can be important to seek legal counsel in order to obtain compensation from the automaker and/or insurance companies. Auto defect claims can be very complicated and it is important that drivers understand their rights under products liability law.

Source: Boston Herald, “US safety agency opens probe into Tesla fires,” Nov. 19, 2013