Business roundup: Tesla to add shielding to protect car’s battery

March 28
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
Tesla adding more battery shielding

The U.S. government’s auto safety watchdog has closed an investigation into Tesla electric car battery fires after the company said that it would install more shields beneath the cars.

The shields, an aluminum bar, a titanium plate and another piece of aluminum will supplement a quarter-inch-thick aluminum plate now on the Model S, the only model that ­Tesla sells. The shielding is designed to stop road debris from penetrating the car’s battery pack.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the Model S last year after two battery fires that were caused by road debris. In each case — one near Nashville, the other near Seattle — debris punctured the aluminum shield and the battery, touching off fires. Drivers were able to safely pull off the road and escape without injury, but the cars were destroyed.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said in a statement Friday that the company will retrofit Model S cars sold in the United States with the new shields at no cost to owners. Tesla also said it added the shields to cars in production starting March 6.

The move is not a recall, a Tesla spokeswoman said. Earlier, Tesla issued a software update that raised the Model S’s ride height to help deal with the issue.

“Tesla’s revision of vehicle ride height and addition of increased underbody protection should reduce both the frequency of underbody strikes and the resultant fire risk,” the NHTSA said in documents posted Friday on its Web site.

Musk said the moves bring the risk of debris striking the battery “down to virtually zero.”

— Associated Press

EXECUTIVE PAY
For Cavanagh, move means salary cut

Wall Street banker Michael J. Cavanagh, who announced this week that he is leaving­ ­JPMorgan Chase to become co-president of the Carlyle Group, is taking a $10 million annual pay cut.

Cavanagh’s job at Carlyle comes with an annual $7 million in salary, bonuses and stock grants from now through 2016, according to a filing the District-based private equity firm made Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While that is substantially less than the $17 million the banker made last year at JPMorgan, Carlyle is creating an incentive plan for Cavanagh and two other top executives that gives them equity stakes.

The new plan, called the Key Executive Incentive Program, which is starting this year, for now applies only to Cavanagh, co-president Glenn A. Youngkin and Adena Friedman, Carlyle’s chief financial officer.

A Carlyle spokesman declined comment.

The filing said Cavanagh and Youngkin will each get 0.5 percent of the firm’s profits from Carlyle’s investment portfolio. Friedman will receive 0.1 percent.

— Thomas Heath

Also in Business

Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent last month after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2 percent in January, and income rose 0.3 percent last month after rising by the same amount in January, the Commerce Department reported. The data took the sting out of a separate report by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan showing that its consumer sentiment index dipped slightly, from 81.6 in February to 80.0 in March.

The administrator of MF Global Holdings’ bankruptcy plan sued PricewaterhouseCoopers for at least $1 billion, accusing the auditor of professional malpractice in connection with the brokerage’s investment in European sovereign debt. According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, PwC provided “flatly erroneous accounting advice” to MF Global and its then-chief executive, Jon Corzine, by recommending the use of off-balance-sheet structures for the brokerage’s $6.3 billion bet on the debt. Market worries about that exposure were among the factors that led to MF Global’s quick collapse and Oct. 31, 2011, bankruptcy.

A U.S. judge who ruled in July that Apple led a conspiracy to fix e-book prices said consumers can pursue a lawsuit as a group against the company.

Google paid co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin their customary $1 salaries last year, while Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s compensation more than doubled to $19.3 million. Most of Schmidt’s raise stemmed from stock grants valued at $11.4 million. Page, who is Google’s chief executive, and Brin, another top executive, have insisted on capping their salaries at $1 annually. The two men each own Google stock worth about $26 billion.

Sally Beauty said a security breach may have affected more of its customers than it earlier estimated. The beauty products seller said last week that the breach affected fewer than 25,000 credit and debit card accounts. It said Friday that, based on an investigation of the incident, a larger number of records containing payment card data may have been illegally accessed and removed from its system. Sally Beauty refused to say how many accounts may have been involved until the forensic review is complete.

— From news services

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