Tesla's Musk: Despite fires, Model S still safest vehicle

The CEO of the all-electric car company says Model S is safer than any other car on the road and "there's definitely not going to be a recall."

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
After an October accident, a burning Tesla Model S was captured on video by a passerby. Screenshot by Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Tesla CEO Elon Musk worked to calm fears on Tuesday that the company's all-electric Model S sedan may be prone to fires.

Speaking in an interview at The New York Times DealBook conference, Musk said that despite some bad press about three car fires in the past two months, there is no way the company needs to issue a recall on the vehicles.

"There's definitely not going to be a recall," Musk said. "There's no reason for a recall, I believe."

Musk maintained that Tesla cars are the safest automobiles on the road. He said that the average rate of fires in gasoline cars is one in every 1,300 cars. While, for Tesla, he said it's roughly one in every 8,000 cars. This would mean that Teslas are five times less likely to be in car fire than a gasoline automobile.

"If you read the headlines, it sounds like Teslas have a greater propensity to catch fire than other cars," Musk said. "In reality, nothing could be further from the truth."

Musk went on to explain that in the three recent car fires, there were no serious injuries or deaths. And, he said, "In the history of Tesla, we've never had a serious injury or death in any of our cars."

The most recent fire happened in Smyrna, Tenn., after the car was hit by what was believed to be a trailer hitch. Pictures of the smoking electric vehicle appeared on the Tesla Motors Club Web site. Previous fires involving the vehicle occurred near Seattle and Merida, Mexico, after accidents.

In the Smyrna fire, the driver was so relieved he was safe that he wrote a blog post on the Tesla Web site saying he "would buy another one in a heartbeat." He wrote he had time to remove his possessions and that "had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm."

Throughout the past few weeks, as information on these fires emerged, Tesla has steadfastly maintained that its vehicles remain safer than gas-powered cars. Indeed, earlier this summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Tesla Model S a five-star safety rating, the highest safety rating a car can receive.