The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the possibility that battery defects in Tesla vehicles may have caused the cars to burst into flames, ABC News informs.
The investigation will involve certain battery management system software updates in Model S and Model X vehicles made between 2012 and 2019 in response to an “alarming number of car fires that have occurred worldwide,” according to a letter the agency sent to Al Prescott, Tesla’s deputy general counsel, on October 24.
The defects in question are “high-voltage battery fires that are not related to collision or impact damage to the battery pack,” according to the letter.
The federal agency is seeking to interview all past and present officers and employees who were involved with the design, engineering, analysis, modification, production, testing, assessment or evaluation of the battery management system, as well as those who had consideration or recognition of potential actual defects through forums such as field reports or complaints and had communication to or from zone representatives, dealers or other field locations.
The petitioner who requested an investigation is representing a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California that relates to the software updates. Tesla has until Nov. 28 to comply with the requests from the NHTSA, or it could face a fine up to $111.6 million.
The electric car company has faced several issues involving its vehicles in recent months. In February, a Florida man died after his Model S caught fire after crashing into a palm tree, but he couldn’t get out because the electronic door handles wouldn’t open. A month later, another Florida man died after he crashed into a tractor-trailer while Autopilot was engaged in his 2018 Model S, ABC News adds.