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Tesla CEO is frustrated by recall on Model S car chargers

WASHINGTON — Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO and co-founder of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, is sniping over semantics with the industry’s regulator, the latest step in what he calls a crusade to revolutionize the automobile.

The flap began late last year as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating battery fires in the $70,000-and-up Tesla Model S sedan. It escalated after the agency listed as a recall Tesla’s steps to reduce fire risks during recharging. An exasperated Musk took to Twitter on Jan. 14, saying “the word ‘recall’ needs to be recalled.”

As Musk looks to start selling into the safety-conscious mass market within three years, he wants to dispel any notion that owning a Tesla is inherently dangerous. Yet by sparring publicly with NHTSA, he risks rankling a regulator that could force costly alterations or fine Tesla millions of dollars for not reporting what the administration considers safety defects.

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