In a post on its corporate blog, Tesla Motors‘ (TSLA) founder and CEO Elon Musk said the electric car-maker would add equipment to better protect the lithium-ion batteries located under its vehicle chassis.
Musk said that TSLA is now adding a “triple underbody shield” to reduce the risk of fires that could result when the batteries are damaged by collisions with road debris. He noted that the risk of such a fire in a Model S vehicle was much lower than in traditional gas powered cars — “roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles” – but said “it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete piece of mind.”
Last year, at least two Model S vehicles experienced fires after striking debris while driving. Musk noted that those incidents “received more national headlines than the other 200,000 gasoline car fires that happened last year in North America alone.”
Musk pointed out that no one was injured in the vehicle fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched in investigation into the incidents. However, on Thursday, the NHTSA said it had ended the probe without finding a “defect trend” in the design of the Model S.
According to Musk, TSLA has been installing the battery shields on cars built since Mar. 6 and will install the shields on existing cars free of charge.
TSLA stock surged about 4% in Thursday trading. TSLA stock has gained more than 400% over the past year.
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