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EDITORIAL: Electric cars are hot

Electric cars are hot, but not necessarily in a good way. One of them, the Tesla Model S, ran over a rock in the road in Seattle early this month and burst into flames. The administration’s friends, if not necessarily the Tesla Model S, can always count on a break. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the golden boy of the green car industry, drew a pass. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to investigate the incident.

“After reviewing all available data,” the agency said, it “has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards.” The 3 million viewers who have watched a scary video of the fire on YouTube, along with a more recent Model S fire in Mexico, might disagree. There was stock shock, too. Share prices of Tesla are down 15 percent this month.

The problem isn’t unique to the Tesla Model S. The electric Fisker Karma has burned down houses in Texas. After Hurricane Sandy, the remains of 16 new Karmas sitting on a dock in New Jersey exploded on exposure to water. General Motors refused to acknowledge the flammability problems of its electric offering, the Chevy Volt, with a recall. Instead, it offered a “customer satisfaction program” inviting Volt owners to take the car to a dealer to get a fix.



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