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New Tesla Fire Fans Concerns About Model S Safety

Blaze consumes Toronto owner’s garage.

by on Feb.14, 2014

Toronto firefighters examine damage after extinguishing a fire involving a Tesla Model S. Image courtesy: BusinessInsider.com.

Just days after Tesla stock hit an all-time record another fire involving the battery-car maker’s Model S is raising new safety concerns.

The latest battery blaze occurred in Toronto after the owner returned from a drive and parked the electric sedan in their garage.  Moments later, the owner’s fire detector reportedly went off and the fire department was called to the scene.

The incident is the fourth reported fire involving a Model S in recent months, including two in the U.S. and another in Mexico.  The earlier incidents raised questions about the safety of the Model S design and initially triggered a sharp decline in Tesla’s soaring stock price.  Shares had been recovering in recent weeks but took a tumble again on Friday.

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“In this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire,” said Tesla in a statement that insisted, “The Model S continues to have the best safety track record of any vehicle in the world.”

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No Model S Recall, Asserts Tesla CEO Musk

Exec blames "extremely inaccurate" coverage for furor.

by on Nov.12, 2013

Tesla CEO Elon Musk downplays fire risk.

Despite three recalls and a potential investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk insists “there definitely won’t be a recall” of the maker’s Model S battery-electric vehicle.

Speaking at a conference in New York also broadcast on CNBC, Musk decried as “extremely inaccurate and unreasonable” the reaction to reports of fires that have occurred in three Model S sedans since late September. Concerns about the vehicle’s safety, along with a series of negative reports by analysts following Tesla, have led to a sharp plunge in the maker’s once high-flying stock.

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Musk was responding to growing concerns about a recall meant to address the possibility that the underbelly of the Model S might not be protected enough to prevent damage to the vehicle’s battery pack from road debris – blamed for both the first and third Tesla fires. On Monday, Jonathan Geller, tech editor for outlet BGR, had tweeted that a recall was under consideration.

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Owner Defends Tesla After Latest Fire

But federal regulators now taking a closer look.

by on Nov.11, 2013

The owner of this Model S says he would buy another one of the battery cars despite the fire.

The Tennessee doctor whose Tesla caught fire last week is defending the maker and insists he will buy another one of the electric vehicles – even though the third fire involving a Model S in barely six weeks has triggered a preliminary federal investigation and a sharp slump in the California maker’s once seemingly unsinkable stock.

The latest fire resulted from an incident that occurred in Smyrna, Tennessee – ironically, the same town where Nissan produces its Leaf battery-car.  According to a statement released by owner Juris Shibayama, he was traveling at 70 mph when he struck what appears to have been a vehicle trailer hitch that had come loose on the highway. Moments later, Shibayama received the first in a series of warnings advising him “pull over safely.” He exited the vehicle as smoke began to pour out of the front battery compartment.

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“This experience does not in any way make me think that the Tesla Model S is an unsafe car,” the doctor wrote on the Tesla blog page.  “I would buy another one in a heartbeat.”

The owner of the first Tesla Model S to catch fire – also due to damage from road debris in a Seattle suburb in late September – wrote a similarly positive letter to the battery carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk following his incident.

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Tesla’s 3rd Model S Fire Adds to Maker’s Woes

Stock takes huge tumble.

by on Nov.07, 2013

An Instagram image of a third reported Tesla Model S fire in Smyrna, Tennessee. Photo Credit: TeslaMotorsClub.com.

Another Tesla Model S battery sedan has caught fire, the third such incident in six weeks, and an event that is contributing to the California carmaker’s sudden stock price plunge.

Ironically, the incident occurred in Smyrna, Tennessee, according to the Tesla Motors Club website, the same town where Nissan produces its own battery-electric vehicle, the Leaf.

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Tesla officials say they plan to immediately investigate the fire which appears to have occurred following a collision involving the Tesla. Two other Tesla vehicles have suffered fires since late September, and the latest incident could raise new concerns about the safety of the lithium-ion technology used by Tesla and other battery-car makers.

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Tesla Takes Yet Another Hit as it Runs Short of Batteries

Stock plunges on latest bad news.

by on Nov.07, 2013

Tesla tanks? And the chart doesn't show Thursday's preliminary decline.

Things to keep going from bad to worse for high-flying battery-car maker Tesla Motors – at least as far as the company’s investors are concerned, though many potential customers are in for a disappointment, as well.

The latest setback, it seems, is the result of the maker’s unexpected success winning over buyers in a market otherwise skeptical about electric propulsion. Tesla is taking so many orders it doesn’t have enough batteries to meet demand – news that once again sent its stock plunging.

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Tesla stock has been in sharp decline for the past month – after reaching a $194.50 peak in late September it was trading around $140 a share mid-morning Thursday, a drop of around $11, or over 7%, for the day.  On Wednesday, TSLA, as the stock is traded as, fell so fast that, at one point, it triggered NASDAQ’s so-called “circuit-breaker,” which is designed to slow trading by short-sellers that could drag shares down even faster.

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Tesla in the Black for Q3 – Sort Of

Maker’s stock continues to slide.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Production of the Tesla Model S has risen sharply -- as have profit margins on the battery sedan.

By Tesla’s account, the battery-car start-up generated a $16 million profit for the third quarter – but by generally accepted accounting practices, or GAAP, the maker would have plunged $38 million into the red for the July to September period.

And that sent already nervous investors skittering for the exit, Tesla stock quickly plunging by nearly $20, or around 11%, in after-hours trading – continuing the decline that was triggered last month both by two battery fires involving the Model S sedan and by negative analyst reports suggesting Tesla shares have been highly over-rated.

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Nonetheless, Tesla shares have remained more than 400% above where they began 2013, even after sliding from a $194.50 peak in September.

In a letter to shareholders, Tesla indicated it expects fourth-quarter earnings to be “about consistent” with the third quarter, a surprise to analysts who had been anticipating an increase as production and sales of the Model S battery-car continue to grow. Musk indicated Tesla is boosting research and development spending by 25% to ensure it can have the maker’s second electric vehicle, the Model X sport-utility vehicle, ready for its late-2014 launch.

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New Battery Deal Could Boost Tesla Production

Fires, stock slump seem to be having little impact on demand.

by on Oct.30, 2013

Despite some recent snags, there are no signs the Model S is losing sales momentum.

It’s been a rough month for high-flying Tesla Motors, but despite a pair of fires and several downgrades by industry analysts, the California electric vehicle maker remains upbeat enough to ink a deal that will substantially boost the number of batteries it buys from Japan’s Panasonic Corp.

That, in turn, suggests that Tesla is expecting to sell significantly more of its vehicles than it originally expected. It has already delayed the launch of a second vehicle, the Model X SUV, to catch up on demand for its initial offering, the Model S sedan.

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“This expanded agreement with Panasonic is important to Tesla as we continue to increase the pace of production,” the maker’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a statement. “We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Panasonic, and I’m confident that this partnership will continue to be an integral part of Tesla’s success for years to come.”

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Second Model S Catches Fire in Mexico

Car smashed into two walls and a tree before catching fire.

by on Oct.28, 2013

The remains of a second Tesla Model S that caught fire. In this case, it hit two walls and a tree beforehand and the driver escaped unharmed.

Just as Tesla managed to get past the furor around the Model S that caught fire in Seattle earlier this month, it appears the company will be dealing with a second fire.

Shaky, fuzzy video footage – as well as several pictures of the aftermath – of what appears to a white Model S engulfed in flames is working its way around the Internet. According to multiple media reports, the incident occurred on Oct. 18 in Merida, which is in the northern Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.

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Reports say that the fire occurred after the Model S crashed into two walls after speeding into a roundabout and then collided with a tree. The driver, who also according to media reports, was driving under the influence of alcohol escaped with no major injuries. It’s unclear if these crashes caused enough damage to pierce into the battery and started the fire, as was the case in the earlier fire in Seattle. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Insists Model S Safe Despite Fire

Battery sedan “safer” than gasoline-powered cars, Musk insists.

by on Oct.07, 2013

The images shown on the Internet "exaggerate" the Tesla Model S fire, claims vehicle's owner.

Investors may be worrying about the impact of a fire that severely damaged a Tesla Model S battery car last week, but the maker’s CEO is not only defending the design of the electric vehicle but arguing that the accident proves it safer than a comparable, gasoline-fueled vehicle.

Fond of using the Internet to get his messages across, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk took to the company’s blog to respond to concerns about a fire that erupted under the hood of a Model S last Tuesday, an incident that was captured on video and has been widely viewed on Youtube and other sites. There were no injuries in the incident, apparently in part due to the vehicle’s own warning system which advised the driver to pull over and exit before the fire erupted in the battery compartment.

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The vehicle’s owner – who is also a Tesla shareholder – reported to rescue crews arriving on the scene that he had apparently struck metal debris on the road in suburban Seattle. In his blog report, CEO Musk echoed that, reporting that the vehicle took a hit powerful enough to punch a 3-inch hole through the armor plate designed to protect the Model S battery pack.

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Tesla Fire Gives Chills to Investors

Debris blamed for battery fire that seriously damages Model S.

by on Oct.03, 2013

A video on YouTube showed the fire that consumed the front end of a Model S, apparently after roadway debris damaged the battery pack.

Roadway debris is tentatively catching the blame for a fire that seriously damaged a Tesla Model S being driven in a Seattle suburb – with that news, combined with new concerns about the battery-carmaker’s high-flying stock sending the price of shares plunging by more than 6%.

The fire itself raised serious concerns about the safety of not just the Tesla Model S, but about the use of lithium-ion batteries in general. There have been problems with other vehicles using the technology, while Boeing was forced to ground its new 787 Dreamliner earlier this year because of fires involving the jet’s first-of-its-king lithium battery system.

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According to a report by Washington State Police, a motorist was driving a Tesla Model S equipped with the company longest-range, 85 kilowatt-hour battery. After apparently striking some metallic debris on the road, the owner began to smell smoke, police were later told, parked the vehicle and exited.  The vehicle reportedly then caught fire.

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