Tesla under investigation on claim it throttled batteries to hide fire risk

GS: Tesla Model S at London Motor And Tech Show 190316
A Tesla Model S is displayed during the London Motor and Tech Show at ExCel on May 16, 2019
in London, England. John Keeble | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Tesla is facing new scrutiny from a federal auto safety agency around battery issues in some Model S and Model X vehicles.

According to a notice published on Tuesday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it had received reports about a possible defect in affected battery packs that could cause “non-crash fires.” The affected battery packs received new management software as part of one or several over-the-air updates issued by Tesla in May.

“The petitioner alleges that the software updates were in response to a potential defect that could result in non-crash fires in the affected battery packs and that Tesla should have notified NHTSA of the existence of this potential defect and conducted a safety recall,” the notice states. “The petitioner also alleges that this software update reduces the driving range of the affected vehicles.”

Representatives from Tesla were not immediately available for comment.

Tesla’s new Smart Summon feature is also being examined by the NHTSA. The agency said it became aware of some reports of accidents involving the feature, which lets drivers call their car from a parking spot to their current location.

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