The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sent Tesla a letter demanding detailed information of any complaints the electric vehicle maker has received about vehicle fires connected to the battery management systems in some Model S and X vehicles, as well as information in updates the automaker has made to the battery management system over time.
According to released reports, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation launched a probe Oct. 1 after getting a defect petition from an unspecified number of Tesla owners to look into the alarming number of car fires that have occurred worldwide. A Sept. 17 petition sent to NHTSA says that some of the over-the-air Tesla battery management system updates lowered the overall range of the electric vehicles with the average range loss adding up to 25 to 30 miles.
Is Battery Performance Linked to Fires?
Some even lost as much as 50 miles of range, the letter says. Tesla told Reuters that because of the update a small percentage of owners of the older Model S and Model X may have lost some range. NHTSA now wants to get the data from Tesla to evaluate whether the updates were actually made because of the fires.
NHTSA has many questions. How many models in the years ranging from 2012 through 2019 Model S and X vehicles did the company sell in the U.S.? NHSTA is also asking for specific details of the vehicles such as the VIN, size of the battery pack, when the vehicle was manufactured and sold and if and when the subject software updates were installed.
How many consumer complaints, property damage claims or lawsuits is the company facing? How did Tesla respond to those complaints, reports, claims, lawsuits, etc.? Tesla has until Nov. 29, 2019, to respond to these and several other questions or ask for an extension. If Tesla does not respond, the automaker could face civil penalties that can cost up to $22,329 a day and proceed to increase up to $111,642,265.
Tesla fires have definitely raised serious concerns among vehicle owners. We trust NHTSA’s investigation will yield some answers including whether the automaker made the software updates because of the fires. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a Tesla fire or due to a defective auto, you may be able to seek compensation for your tremendous losses. Please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.