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Tesla fire leads to safety challenges

Published: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP)
A Tesla Model S is shown driving outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. Shares of Tesla Motors are down another 5 percent as investors in the high-flying company assess the fallout from a fire in one of its $70,000 electric cars.

When debris on a Seattle-area freeway pierced the battery of a $70,000-plus Tesla Model S and touched off a raging fire, it raised new safety concerns for electric-vehicle owners.

It also caused rare jitters among investors, who of late have viewed Tesla as nearly invincible.

Electric vehicles have scored well in government tests of front and side crashes – the Model S earned the highest score possible. But Tuesday’s incident demonstrates that real-world driving could reveal some vulnerabilities that don’t show up in laboratory testing.

“The safety challenges related to electric cars are still in the early stages of being tested and addressed,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

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