Tesla CEO explains cause of fire in electric vehicle

October 4, 2013
Automobiles
Tesla CEO explains cause of car fire

Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric car company Tesla Motors, said a battery in a Model S that caught fire this week was apparently impaled by a metal object.

He gave more detail in a blog post Friday about the fire that became an Internet sensation and unsettled Tesla investors. He also defended the vehicle’s battery technology.

Musk wrote in a blog that fires are more common in conventional gas-powered vehicles. “For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid,” Musk wrote.

Musk said a curved metal component was apparently the culprit in causing a Tesla to catch on fire Tuesday. He said the object’s shape led to a powerful hit on the underside of the vehicle, punching a three-inch hole through an armor plate that protects the car’s bottom.

The company said the car properly contained the blaze. The driver was able to leave the highway in the Seattle suburb of Kent before flames engulfed the front of the vehicle.

Of the estimated 194,000 vehicle fires in the United States each year, the vast majority are in cars and trucks with gasoline or diesel engines. Electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of the cars sold in the country.

Tesla shares fell sharply Wednesday and Thursday after a video of the car fire circulated on the Internet. The shares recovered somewhat Friday, rising $7.67, or 4.4 percent, to $180.98. They still finished the week with a loss of $9.92, or 5.2 percent. The shares are still up about 400 percent.

— Associated Press

Wall Street
Investors go atwitter over Tweeter

A bankrupt electronics retailer appears to have gotten caught up in the investor fervor for Twitter.

Shares of Tweeter Home Entertainment Group rose as high as 15 cents Friday. That’s up 1,400 percent from Thursday’s closing price of 1 cent. And trading volume skyrocketed to 14.4 million shares. In the past year, the daily average was about 29,000, said FactSet.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s industry regulator, said the shares were halted Friday afternoon because of a misunderstanding related to the “possible initial public offering of an unrelated security.”

What could have gotten investors so confused?

Tweeter trades over the counter, under the “TWTRQ” symbol.

Twitter on Thursday offered investors details about its highly anticipated IPO and proposed the stock symbol “TWTR.”

But San Francisco-based Twitter’s stock won’t be available for trading until the company goes public. That could be before Thanksgiving.

Twitter has about 218 million accounts, far fewer than Facebook, which has more than 1 billion.

And Tweeter? The electronics chain was founded in 1972 and had been based in Canton, Mass. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007 and closed the stores in 2008. Its over-the-counter stock was worth 5 cents before trading was halted Friday.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

FAO Schwarz may vacate its iconic flagship toy store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue after almost three decades at the location, according to real estate brokers. FAO Schwarz no longer needs such a large location, said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Manhattan. By subleasing the space, the company also may be looking to take advantage of the area’s surging retail rents, which have risen almost 22 percent from a year ago, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The store, a tourist magnet on one of the world’s priciest retail corridors, has been home to the retailer since it moved from across the street in 1986.

●● Samsung Electronics is on track to post its second consecutive year of record earnings as a rebound in its semiconductor business shields the South Korean tech giant from a slower smartphone market. The world’s biggest memory chipmaker is likely to see its semiconductor earnings charge to a three-year high — a much-needed shot in the arm — just as sales of its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone flag, analysts said.

A federal magistrate judge postponed a bail hearing Friday for the alleged mastermind of the Silk Road online drug bazaar to give the man’s attorney more time to prepare. Wearing leg shackles and a red jail uniform, Ross William Ulbricht, 29, was led into the San Francisco courtroom during the 10-minute proceeding. The hearing will be Wednesday.

The head of the Comcast-owned Telemundo network, Emilio Romano, is leaving the company in the latest shuffle of NBCUniversal executives. Telemundo is a distant second place in the fast-growing Spanish-language TV market with a goal of closing the gap with top-watched Univision.

— From news services

Coming Next Week

Monday: Consumer credit.

●●Wednesday: Wholesale trade.

Friday: IMF and World Bank open annual meetings.

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