Blog Post

Uh-Oh: Tesla Recalls 439 Roadsters for Fire Concern

Electric vehicle startup Tesla Motors (s TSLA) has issued its second recall. The company, which started trading on the NASDAQ in June, said on Friday that it’s recalled 439 of its electric sports cars, the Roadster, to fix a problem with a cable that could start a fire.

Tesla said in a statement that it decided to initiate a recall after the cable in a Roadster “chafed against the edge of a carbon fiber panel in the vehicle causing a short, smoke and possible fire behind the right front headlamp of the vehicle.” Last year Tesla recalled 345 of its Roadsters made between March 2008 and April 2009 due to safety concerns with the rear hub bolts.

Tesla went out of its way to note that the possible fire in this recent case didn’t involve the battery pack or power system. That’s because some critics have long said that the way that Tesla strings together its thousands of lithium ion batteries could cause “thermal runaway,” ie it could blow up. But to date there hasn’t seemed to be any instances of Tesla battery packs blowing up.

But negative attention about the safety of Roadsters, and electric vehicles in general, is never good for a nascent market and a startup in particular. As I noted in this post, brand has been everything for Tesla and could be a fragile thing if there’s more safety concerns. Tesla’s stock seems largely unaffected so far.

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