The NHTSA said it started the investigation Nov. 15. A preliminary evaluation can lead to a recall on more than 13,000 cars from the 2013 model year that were sold in the U.S., but a decision likely is months away.
“If a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change,” Musk wrote.
In the latest incident, a Model S caught fire after a highway accident in Tennessee on Nov. 7.
Musk also said Tesla was changing the design of the Model S suspension to provide more clearance between the undercarriage and the road, a change that he said “is about reducing the chances of underbody impact damage, not improving safety.” A software update in January, he added, would give drivers more control over suspension ride height.
Musk wrote that at first, a NHTSA investigation didn’t seem like a good use of the agency’s time given the higher frequency of gasoline-powered car fires. But he changed his mind. “If a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide. That cannot be allowed to happen,” Musk wrote.