Elon Musk of Tesla got a U.S. federal government loan of $465 million to produce the upscale Tesla Model S electric car. At more than $70,000 the car is too expensive for most consumers and as Britain’s “Top Gear” found, the car ran far less between charges than Elon Musk claimed. Now other problems have emerged.
In recent months, three Tesla Model S cars caught on fire, the last two reportedly caused by road debris. The other fire occurred in Mexico when the car hit a wall. No injuries reported in the fires, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into the safety issue. As it happens, safety problems are not limited to the pricey Tesla Model S.
Recall that Fisker Automotive, Inc, got a federal loan of $529 million to produce its $100,000 Fisker Karma hybrid, built not in America by American workers but in Finland by Finnish workers. Before Fisker went bankrupt, 16 of its upscale vehicles caught fire and blew up during Hurricane Sandy.
In 2011 in Hangzhou, China, an electric Zotye Multipla taxi burst into flames for reasons. Chinese firefighters were unable to discern. Apparently it was an absolute “fireball” that firefighters could not control, and the second such fire that year. That’s not good for areas of high population density, though the passengers and drivers apparently escaped unharmed.
Electric vehicles could well be unsafe at any speed, but they have not attracted attention from alleged consumer watchdog Ralph Nader. Likewise, the safety problems have not caused the federal government to revise its stimulus policies. Those may be risky for taxpayers, but they certainly proved bountiful for Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. The man whose luxury plug-ins are catching fire plunked down $17 million for a 20,248-square-foot Bel-Air mansion with a gym, seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, tennis court, motor court, and a swimming pool.