Safety Bureaus Investigate Tesla Fires Caused by Batteries

Still in its nascent infancy, Tesla is currently contending with issues that have historically stalled the growth of novel technology. In the late '90s and early '00s, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) drew notoriety for rolling over when turning sharply. However, by 2009, such negative publicity was ancient history, as SUV-manufacturers across the board installed electronic stability control in a collective effort to improve the safety of SUVs. The public outcry calmed to a simmer, then evaporated almost completely.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of the Tesla brainchild, is hoping that Tesla can escape a snag that is hindering its market penetration and impugning its design. Because Tesla vehicles run on electricity supplied by a gigantic battery, the batteries tend to overheat. And because these batteries are positioned within the very lower chassis of Tesla vehicles, and not protected by an encasement, the battery is prone to explode when it is struck by debris. However, Tesla's CEO is quick to point out that in the only three fires that occurred, all were due to high-speed collisions. And despite his self-defense, he is intent on further improving the cars. During the inchoate stages of Tesla motors, car batteries would overheat to near combustion, but Musk proposed that cooling systems be installed so the batteries could not overheat. The proposition was a success and enabled Tesla to emerge as a commercially viable auto-manufacturer.

Now the mission is to quell public concern again. This is a multi-pronged effort that includes the provision of an additional warranty ? a warranty that covers any damage a Tesla incurs, should its battery catch fire, a heightened air suspension, and modifications suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Like with any new product, Tesla is working out its kinks before it takes to the ground running.