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

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

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