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Electric car maker sees third fire in test drives

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Two months ago, fledgling car company Tesla appeared to be on a meteoric rise to superstardom. The electric sports car maker had received a slew of back orders for the release of its Model S, the car had performed well in crash tests, and the battery-powered car appeared to have the potential to change the market regarding gas powered cars.

However, two fires in the last six weeks appear to have changed perceptions of the company. While no one was hurt in these test drives, the fires raised suspicions about the car’s safety. Recently, images of a third fire went viral online. The car that was previously touted for safety and fuel efficiency is now facing doubts.

Kyle Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelly Blue Book, explained to ABC News that recurring images of a car catching on fire can have a negative impact on potential buyers, which can cause them to reassess their confidence in a brand. Moreover, the recent fires have caught the attention of federal regulators who fear that the fires suggest that a greater safety issue has not been addressed.

While gas-powered cars commonly catch on fire (on average, 17 cars every day) the Tesla fires could unveil a defect that could have far-reaching implications. Each fire was caused by an object piercing the battery, much like a gas tank in a conventional car being breached. As a matter of law, Tesla has a legal duty to address this issue before making the car available to the public.

It remains to be seen what Tesla will do to correct this problem.

Source: ABC, “Three Tesla fires in six weeks raise doubts about seemingly untouchable company,” Colleen Curry, November 9, 2013

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