Tesla shares rise after CEO says no recall

There's no reason to do one, the automaker's CEO says. He played down 3 recent reports of fires in the Model S.

By Benzinga Nov 13, 2013 12:45PM

Credit: From left: © Jack Plunkett/AP
Caption: From left: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gives the opening keynote at the SXSW Interactive FestivalBy Louis Bedigian

Tesla (TSLA) founder and CEO Elon Musk (pictured) told CNBC the automaker will not issue a recall after a third Model S caught fire.

"There's definitely not gonna be a recall," he told the network. "There's no reason for a recall." Shares of the stock rose more than 1% Wednesday to $139.60.

Musk said the perception is that Tesla vehicles have a greater propensity to catch fires than other cars. In actuality, however, he thinks that couldn't be further from the truth.

The average car model has one fire for every 1,300 cars on the road. With Tesla, there 

has been only one fire for every 8,000 cars.

"The headlines are extremely misleading," said Musk. "We've never had a serious injury or death in any of our cars. Maybe there is a car that is as safe as a Model S, but there is certainly not a car that is safer, because you'd have to have less than zero [deaths]."

Customers respond

How do the actual drivers of the Tesla vehicles that caught fire feel about the Model S?

According to Musk, they want a new one to replace the one that was destroyed.

"It's the best car they've ever driven," Musk said of the response he has received. "In all three cases they think they were safe from serious harm. If they had been in another car they probably would have been seriously injured."

"In (the) case of the second car," he added, "it was four times the kinetic energy that a car is supposed to be survivable at."

That accident was a multi-part crash involving an impact with a concrete wall, a 7-foot pole and a tree. The driver and passenger got out of the car and walked away. Afterwards there was a small fire.

Musk joked that this led the media to cry, "Fire!"

He wryly compared this to the Titanic, saying that if the ship had smashed through two icebergs, crashed into a third and all the passengers got off safely and bought another ticket to ride the Titanic again, the headlines would have read, "Titanic catches fire."

"I'm sort of a perfectionist," Musk added. "Safety is our No. 1 priority. I drive it. My kids are in it, my friends are in it."

Musk said that if there was even the slightest chance that it was dangerous, he would issue a recall.

In fact, the company did just that earlier this year -- when Tesla encountered a possible issue with a seat-belt bracket.

With regard to the supposed comments made by actor George Clooney, Musk said that he complained a long time ago about a Tesla roadster from 2008, not the Model S.

"That'd be like saying my iPhone 1 in 2007 had a bug," Musk quipped.

Read more from Benzinga

Nov 14, 2013 7:37AM
I certainly read the news like every one else. Along the highway to safety we have to keep in mind that it may be electric, hydrogen etc in our future. Think back to smelly, dirty, low mileage, high maintenance, polluting automobiles. It will probably be in the 2030's that non gasoline powered autos will be the normal on the road.
Nov 13, 2013 5:05PM
Should mention that as in the case of many other technological achievements, the construction of gas tanks in cars owes the military a debt of gratitude.  When the USA gave up its technological advantage in the airplane in the early 20th Century, and later went into the War to End All Wars, fighter planes designed in Europe were eventually made here for the war effort.  They earned the not-so-endearing nickname of "flaming coffins" because of the poorly designed baffles in the gasoline tanks.  These were rapidly improved in the years that followed.
Nov 13, 2013 5:02PM
From all indications, he's right.  I give great credit to the manufacturers of gasoline cars having made great technological strides in making what is basically a traveling bomb safe to drive, but in the obsolete gasoline vehicle, you still have 5 to 50 gallons of explosively flammable fuel onboard with you.  It stands to reason that EVs will have fires and that they will be less catastrophic than some of those in liquid fueled vehicles. 
Nov 13, 2013 2:04PM
That fellow Elon is pretty clever, yes? :)
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