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Tesla CEO expects feds to clear Model S in fires

Elon Musk, leader of upstart automaker, says hybrid car will be cleared in federal probe.

DETROIT (AP) — The leader of upstart automaker Tesla Motors says he is confident that its Model S electric car is safe and will be cleared by a federal investigation into two battery fires.

CEO Elon Musk said the fires, which occurred when metal road debris pierced the underbody of the cars at highway speeds, are extreme cases. He doesn’t expect a recall and said his engineers are not working on any fixes for the battery-powered cars.

“In both cases it was a large piece of metal essentially braced against the tarmac,” Musk said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press.

No one was hurt in the fires, which began in the batteries and happened along freeways near Seattle and Nashville, Tenn., starting Oct. 1. Another fire happened in Mexico after the driver ran through a concrete wall at more than 100 mph. In the Seattle case, the Model S hit a curved truck part. The car hit a trailer hitch in the Tennessee crash.

Musk said no one has ever been hurt in a Model S crash, which shows there’s no safety problem for drivers or passengers. The only other reason to investigate is economic loss from the fires, but that’s not an issue because Tesla amended its warranty to cover fire loss in crashes, Musk said.

“I’m not saying it can’t happen again,” he said. “I’m saying in any kind of low-speed impact, you’re fine. Any car, Model S or not Model S, the underside is going to get significantly damaged if you drive over a large metal object.”
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