Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)’s outspoken co-founder, said “there’s definitely not going to be a recall” of the company’s Model S as the electric-car maker waits to see if U.S. regulators investigate crash-related fires involving the sedan.
“We’re about five times less likely to have a fire than an average gasoline car,” Chief Executive Officer Musk said today at the New York Times’ DealBook conference in New York, which was webcast and telecast on CNBC. Reaction to the fires reported by some media was “extremely inaccurate and unreasonable,” Musk said.
Tesla has fallen 22 percent through today’s close since the Palo Alto, California-based company posted third-quarter results last week that disappointed some investors and reports of a Nov. 6 accident in Tennessee that sparked a battery pack-related fire in a Model S. It was the third such incident in five weeks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it’s in contact with local authorities in Tennessee who are investigating the accident. The agency decided not to investigate a previous Model S fire last month in Washington state, which happened after the driver struck a metal object.
“There are 200,000 gasoline car fires per year in the United States, 200,000,” said Musk, 42, who is also Tesla’s biggest shareholder. “There are on average 250 to 300 automotive fire deaths in the U.S. How many times have you read about that?”
In last week’s incident, a Tesla driver in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, hit a metal tow hitch that had fallen onto a freeway.
A Model S blaze also broke out after a crash near Merida, Mexico, in mid-October. NHTSA said on Oct. 24 that it found no evidence the Washington fire, which happened on the first day of a government shutdown, resulted from defects or violations of U.S. safety standards.
The agency said it was aware of the Mexico incident and would monitor the performance of Tesla vehicles.
Tesla plans to deliver 21,500 units of the Model S, priced from $70,000 to more than $100,000, this year. The car, which received top scores from NHTSA for crash safety, is currently sold in the U.S., Canada and Europe, with sales in China to begin in early 2014.
Tesla rose 2.2 percent to $140.90 at 5:18 p.m. New York time after the close of regular trading. The shares, even with recent declines, have surged more than fourfold this year. Tesla reached a record closing price of $193.37 on Sept. 30.
“I actually think the high stock price is somewhat distracting,” Musk said today. “I think the stock is a pretty good deal where it is right now. It was probably a little high before.”
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