Tesla Fires Raise Doubts About Seemingly Untouchable Company


"If a Tesla catches on fire, it's on TV, I have to write about it. It resonates with the public, even though it's not a significant number," he said.

"If you think about a regular car you're driving around with gasoline, conventional cars catch fire all the time and can have fuel leaks, and we're OK with that, we're comfortable with that," Berkowitz said. "Teslas are expensive. They're bought by rich people, and there's kind of an uncomfortability or people don't understand the science behind it or the risks."

Tesla touts its safety ratings in which it has scored high during crash tests that all cars undergo. In response to Thursday's fire, the company defended the car's safety record.

"We have been in contact with the driver, who was not injured and believes the car saved his life," the company said in a statement. "Our team is on its way to Tennessee to learn more about what happened in the accident."

The company also pointed out that the National Highway Transportation Safety Association cleared the car for any fault in a fire on Oct. 3 in Seattle, and found no evidence of any defect or problems with safety standards.

"After reviewing all available data, the NHTSA has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards," the NHTSA said at the time.

The company did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News today.

Whether the fires have any long-term impact on the rising star of the auto industry remains to be seen. According to the experts, that answer mainly depends on whether any more Model S vehicles make headlines for catching fire.

"What's worth keeping in mind is that no one's really sure yet whether we're giving attention to this because they're glamorous cars getting destroyed in shocking ways or because something is actually going on," Berkowitz said.

"Of course the other thing is how many more times this is going to happen? There's been three fires in six weeks," Brauer said. "If there's not a fire for another year, people will forget. If there's a fire next week or month, that's not good. But we'll start getting an answer to at least one question: Is it easier to start a fire in a Tesla or not?"

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