The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun looking into possible battery defects in Tesla sedans and SUVs after some cars spontaneously burst into flames. The development raises even more safety concerns for the high-profile electric vehicle manufacturer.
The security agency sent a letter, dated October 24, to a lawyer from Tesla in which the company said it is considering a petition to investigate defects in battery software updates in 2012 through 2019 Model S and X cars. In the letter, NHTSA also requested the company to record software updates to the battery management system, as well as other documents, including consumer complaints and any reports related to the car fire.
Tesla and NHTSA did not immediately respond to several requests for comment. But the federal agency told Car and Driver magazine that it "had received a deficiency request regarding the battery management software in certain Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles" and that it would "carefully review the call and relevant data." Car and Driver first reported the letter on Friday.
In September, a petition to the NHTSA sent by the law offices to Edward C. Chen, representing Tesla owners said that in May, Tesla battery updates reduced the vehicle's range by about 25 to 30 miles. In its letter, the agency demanded information from Tesla to help it evaluate whether the battery updates were being done to address the spontaneous fires.
Tesla has until November 28 to comply with NHTSA's request, or fines of up to $ 111.6 million may be imposed according to the federal agency's letter.