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This is the third fire in under a two-month period

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided to look into the latest fire involving Tesla Motors' Model S. 

According to The Detroit News, NHTSA will review what is now the third Model S to catch fire in under a two-month period. This most recent incident took place near Smyrna, Tennessee. 

The Tennessee fire took place when a Model S driver hit a tow hitch on Interstate 24, which damaged the car’s undercarriage and caused a fire. The driver was able to exit the vehicle safely.

“NHTSA is in close communication with Tesla and local authorities gathering information about the incident to determine if additional action is necessary,” said NHTSA.

Special focus is being placed on the fact that the Model S' battery is located near the underside, making the battery an easy target when striking debris or hitting pavement -- thus increasing the risk of a fire.

This could lead to stronger methods of protecting the EV's battery pack. 

NHTSA has not opened a formal investigation on the Tesla crashes yet, likely because this is the first incident it's addressing.

Model S fire in Smyrna, Tenn. [Image Source: Associated Press]

But this isn't the first Tesla fire to occur. In early October, a Model S driver in Kent, Washington was traveling southbound on state Route 167 when he hit a piece of metal debris on the freeway. He then exited the freeway, and the car became disabled right before he smelled something burning. The car caught fire.
Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said the fire was caused by a large metallic object hitting one of the battery pack’s modules. NHTSA did not investigate the fire at the time because of the partial government shutdown, which suspended such activity. 

Another Model S fire occurred shortly after in Mexico, but that's out of NHTSA's jurisdiction. 

Tesla said all three fires were caused by crashes; not spontaneous events.

Tesla and its Model S have been in the spotlight a lot this year after the company successfully paid off its government loans nine years early, pulled a profit, unveiled new tech for its electric car and the Model S even snagged the highest safety rating from the NHTSA. But it's unclear if this hiccup will further heighten the fear surrounding lithium ion batteries for cars, and possibly even take a toll on Model S sales. 

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: Lithium batteries burn
By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2013 12:18:48 PM , Rating: 0
That's out of millions of cars. What's alarming here is the high percentage of the relatively few Teslas on the road catching fire after REALLY minor incidents.

You can't just throw up your arms and say there's no problem. Musk can't hide behind the fact that cars catch on fire too, so its all good. Musk needs to bite the bullet and do a massive recall.

The battery compartment needs extra impact protection. It isn't a condemnation of the vehicle to say this. Its a very correctible issue, not really a huge deal.

RE: Lithium batteries burn
By GotThumbs on 11/11/13, Rating: 0
RE: Lithium batteries burn
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/11/2013 3:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
Just buy back the cars from idiots who should be driving dump-trucks, because they're too stupid to avoid road hazards.
Right, because ALL road hazards are 100 percent avoidable. Get a clue...

RE: Lithium batteries burn
By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2013 5:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
Just buy back the cars from idiots who should be driving dump-trucks, because they're too stupid to avoid road hazards.

And you're probably the idiot who swerves into other vehicles in your attempt to avoid a piece of trash.

Sometimes the safest thing to do IS to hit debris. Better to hit that then another vehicle or do something to cause an accident.

We're certainly in no position to judge this guy. We have no idea what the circumstances were.

RE: Lithium batteries burn
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/11/2013 6:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
This last one, hit a trailer hitch, the vehicle in front of him was high enough to clear it and he saw it to late.

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