DETROIT — On the day of its news conference at the Detroit auto show, Tesla Motors Inc. announced a recall of about 29,000 of its 2013 Model S sedan’s adapters because the adapter, cord or wall outlet could overheat during charging and cause fires. The cars were not recalled.
Tesla executives emphasized Tuesday that their luxury electric vehicle is safe for the road.
The recall, which Tesla is fixing by software updates sent electronically to customers, added to a recent wave of negative publicity surrounding the much-hyped electric vehicle. Tesla also recently submitted to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiry after three Model S sedans experienced fires following high-speed crashes. The NHTSA reaffirmed the car’s 5-star crash rating.
Although Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk did not attend the North American International Auto Show, he turned again to Twitter to minimize the recall’s impact and express his frustration with the regulatory regimen all automakers face.
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“The word ‘recall’ needs to be recalled,” Musk said on Twitter.
Jerome Guillen, Tesla sales vice president, said about 99 percent of Model S adapters had already received an over-the-air software upgrade to fix the charging issue. Tesla said the recall affects nearly every Model S and adapter the company produced for 2013.
Guillen said there have been no serious injuries in a Model S crash despite 168 million miles of driving.
“This is one of the safest, if not the safest, cars on the road,” Guillen said.
The recall didn’t scare off investors, who rushed into Tesla’s stock after executives announced at the North American International Auto Show that fourth-quarter deliveries of the Model S sedan totaled 6,900 units, about 20 percent above expectations. The automaker’s stock jumped during the news conference, rising more than 10 percent Tuesday afternoon.
Anyone who attended the company’s news conference expecting product news came away disappointed.
Guillen declined to say when the company would introduce its all-new Model X electric crossover. But he told the Detroit Free Press that the vehicle would reach production by late 2014. Some industry observers expected the automaker to reveal the production version of the vehicle at the auto show.
“Model X is being worked on feverishly,” Guillen said. “The people you don’t see here today are working on the Model X.”
Tesla also said it would double its number of company-owned “stores” — a form of dealerships — in 2014 and would deliver its first units in China within weeks.
In keeping with its nontraditional approach, Tesla executives didn’t use a teleprompter during the news conference, in contrast to the other auto companies’ tightly scripted events, and there were no chairs for observers.
The executives also took questions from the crowd, a rarity at the Detroit auto show, where journalists typically ask questions face-to-face with executives after presentations.
In a media “scrum” lasting about a minute following the news conference, Guillen addressed Musk’s absence.
“Elon is a very busy person; he runs two companies and he has to juggle a lot of priorities,” Guillen said. Musk also is CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Inc., or SpaceX.
Tesla said Model S owners affected by its recall can verify that they have received the updated software by viewing the vehicle’s center information screen. Additionally, Tesla will mail owners a replacement NEMA 14-50 adapter that is equipped with an internal thermal fuse.