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US watchdog will not probe Tesla battery fire safety • The Register

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday rejected a request to investigate the safety of Tesla electric car batteries after a series of fires in 2018 and 2019.

A man named Edward Chen filed a petition in September 2019, calling on the regulator to launch an investigation into Tesla’s vehicles to see if there were any defects in the products. He claims that this year the carmaker has released “software updates over the air to cover up and cover up a potentially widespread and dangerous problem with the batteries in its vehicles.” The update reduced battery capacity and fast charging speed.

As proof that the cars have a battery defect, which the software documents – for example by slowing down the charging process – Chen cites the case of two Tesla Model S cars, one on the Chinese continent and the other in Hong Kong, which burst into flames in 2019. after compressor points were used, which speed up the process of charging the car battery. The main cause of the fire on the continent was not identified, although the finger was aimed at the frequency of fast charging and the temperature of the hardware. For the one in Hong Kong, the batteries were recently repaired.

Chen also cites three fires involving the same Tesla model that appeared in the United States as well as one in Germany. NHTSA analyzed the incidents and concluded that the fires outside China were not related to batteries and recharging. And so he will do nothing about the complaint.

“While no pattern of fires has been observed in China shortly after recharging sessions, no such fire incidents have been identified in the United States,” the NHTSA report said. [PDF] said.

According to the agency, Tesla said it was unaware of “non-catastrophic battery fires involving fast charging in the United States or another country” other than the two in China.

“Given the absence of any fast-loading incidents in the United States,” the administration said, “and the absence of such incidents worldwide since May 2019, it is unlikely that there will be a notification and removal order. of safety issues a defect will be issued due to any investigation found as a result of satisfying this petition.

“Therefore, on full consideration of the information provided in the petition and the potential safety risks, the petition is rejected.”

Of the three fires in California, one in West Hollywood includes the Tesla Model S, which was never charged quickly; one in Los Gatos was not often recharged and had a later generation of power cells that were beyond the scope of the complaint, and Tesla could not rule out physical damage to the batteries; and one in San Francisco, which is caused by the rear-wheel drive. The fire in Ratingen, Germany, is thought to have been caused by something other than a battery.

Tesla sold about 225,000 Model S and Model X vehicles in the United States between 2012 and 2019, the report said. Approximately 62,000 of these cars support the firmware update, which limits the car’s battery life. Only 2,062 vehicles – 3.5% – have activated the update.

In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a big case here. “Available data show that battery-free battery burns in Tesla vehicles are rare,” the observer said.

Chen also has filed a series of group lawsuits over the Tesla fires in California. ®

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