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More Issues with Tesla

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On: Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:07AM | By: Karen Cook

More Issues with Tesla

Tesla just can’t stay out of the news. If you agree that any publicity is good publicity then Tesla should be happy. Recent reports have some negative publicity and some not so negative but not positive publicity.

Starting with the not so bad, last summer Tesla tried to advertise a better than 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and got their hands slapped for the effort. When a vehicle finishes the testing process and is awarded the appropriate stars the manufacturer is sent a report explaining how the vehicle performed. Tesla believes that when you add up the numbers, the Model S actually received 5.4 stars and began to advertise this finding. The NHTSA was not happy with this decision and updated its guidelines to show that they do not award a safety rating of more than five stars and the rating is always a whole number. It also imposed penalties for advertising using the decimal in the rating, which include removal from the program and possibly dealing with other actions decided upon by federal or state authorities. Tesla says that “safety levels better than five are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score provided” by the NHTSA, but the NHTSA says Tesla is not allowed to talk about it.

The negative publicity comes out of Toronto, Ontario; it concerns another fire involving the Model S. This one happened inside the owner’s garage after the car had been driven and parked. It was not plugged in and the cause is still a mystery at this point. The vehicle was about four months old.

A statement issued by Tesla says that “in this particular case we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitely determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adaptor, or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.”

My take? As far as the safety rating, if the numbers add up I think a manufacturer should be able to publish the fact that the safety of their vehicle is “over the top.” If it’s the truth, the NHTSA shouldn’t be able to impose penalties. And the fire? Well, as many fires as Tesla has had to put out recently, it would make me happy in this case if the fault was poor storage choices on the part of the owner. You know, gas cans and newspapers stored next to each other. I think Tesla deserves to get a pass on this one.


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