FILE – In this Friday, June 22, 2012 file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks past the Tesla Model S after a news conference at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. Musk on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, blamed a shortage of lithium-ion battery cells for trouble meeting demand for Teslas lone vehicle, the Model S. Cars that could have been sold in North America were diverted to Europe to satisfy waiting customers, Musk said on a conference call after releasing third-quarter earnings. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 photo provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, emergency workers respond to a fire on a Tesla Model S electric car in Smyrna, Tenn. Spokeswoman Liz Jarvis Shean says Tesla has sent a team to Tennessee to investigate the fire. Two other Model S cars have caught fire in the past five weeks, one near Seattle and the other in Mexico. (AP Photo/Tennessee Highway Patrol)
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk says the company “definitely” won’t recall its Model S electric car despite three vehicle fires in the last six weeks.
“The headlines are extremely misleading. If fire risk is your concern, you would have a great deal of difficulty being in any better car than the Model S,” Musk said.
There is one fire for every 1,300 gas-powered cars on U.S. roads, and for the Model S, that’s closer to one in 8,000, Musk said during an interview Tuesday at The New York Times’ DealBook conference. He underscored that none of the drivers in the three cases was injured.
“There’s definitely not going to be a recall. There’s no reason for a recall, I believe,” he said.
Rumors of a possible recall sent Tesla shares down 5 percent Tuesday to close at $137.80. They rose 2 percent in after-hours trading after Musk spoke. The stock is down by nearly a third since the first fire was reported on Oct. 2. In that case, the car hit a large metal object on a state highway near Seattle. In the second case, in Mexico, a Model S burned after a high-speed crash. Last week, a Model S caught on fire near Smyrna, Tenn., after its driver struck a trailer hitch in the road.
Musk, who described himself as “somewhat of a perfectionist,” said Tesla would recall the Model S immediately if it thought the car had a safety problem.
Ultimately, that decision might not be left to Tesla. The government could decide to recommend a recall of the Model S, and could take the company to court if it refuses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said late Tuesday that it’s in contact with Tesla and authorities in Tennessee to decide whether it needs to take further action.