Tesla Faces NHTSA Investigation Into Possible Model S/X Battery Issue

It makes no difference who submitted the complaints. If there’s a safety concern, NHTSA will decide if it requires a recall.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a notice stating that it opened an investigation into a possible defect in some Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles that may have caused “non-crash fires.”

This is an ongoing story about some Teslas that caught fire for seemingly no reason while parked. The NHTSA received multiple complaints about the issue over the years, and now it’s moving forward with its process.

It’s important to note that this is not an indication that something is wrong, at least not yet. It’s also not an official recall at this time. However, it’s the NHTSA’s duty to investigate the situation if it feels people’s petitions have merit and there’s a potential safety risk involved.

Consumer attorney Edward Chen submitted a defect petition to the NHTSA that pushed the organization to move forward. It was filed for Tesla owners whose cars received a software update that reduced range. The owners believe the software update was a way for Tesla to avoid a recall, since it may take care of the potential battery fire issue. However, they believe it’s unfair that their Teslas’ range was reduced. 

According to CNBC, Chen’s letter to the NHTSA and Department of Transportation stated:

“Tesla is using over-the-air software updates to mask and cover-up a potentially widespread and dangerous issue with the batteries in their vehicles.”

The NHTSA will investigate the situation surrounding the “battery throttling” over-the-air software update, as well as the potential fire situation, and then decide if a recall must be issued.

In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has claimed that many safety complaints filed to the NHTSA were made up. However, at this point, whether or not all the complaints were real, and regardless of any “alleged” attempt to wrongfully accuse Tesla, the NHTSA will get to the bottom of it.

It really makes no difference who filed the complaints and/or which side they may appear to be on. The whole “he said, she said” situation surrounding Tesla has gotten old. People file authentic and fake reviews and complaints about companies and products all the time. That’s one of the reasons we have organizations and check and balances in place. The important part here is that if there is a safety issue, it must be taken care of. In addition, if customers were wronged due to the update, or if Tesla was trying to hide something, the NHTSA’s job is to expose it.

If people are submitting false reports, that’s certainly frowned upon. It would waste the NHTSA’s time and resources. However, false reports with no proof don’t lead to recalls. If the NHTSA’s investigation uncovers a safety issue related to battery fires or can prove that Tesla purposely reduced these cars’ range to avoid a recall, it will be compelled to take action.