Tesla Motors says the latest wireless software update for the Tesla Model S isn’t to prevent fire, but the car will ride a little higher the next time you get on the highway.
The news From Tesla Motors came just hours before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] announced they would investigate the design of the Tesla Model S after three fires broke out after collision with hard objects. Two of the fires occurred after impacting debris in the road, a truck part and an old truck hitch. The third fire [second, chronologically speaking] occurred after the driver rammed at least a wall and a tree.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has done his best to put these fires into perspective, and the NHTSA has even given the Tesla Model S a Five-Star Safety Rating, which must count for something. Still, Tesla Motors has said there will be no recall, but that was before the NHTSA finally decided to call an official investigation. The NHTSA has previously questioned Tesla Motors, but held off on a full investigation.
In any case, a software update, which is going out over mobile networks, will update the suspension control system and make the Tesla Model S ride a little higher when at highway speeds. Elon Musk is now running damage control, saying, “To be clear, this is about reducing the chances of underbody impact damage, not improving safety.” Getting the car a little higher off the highway will definitely help in this regard, but it’s also going to wreak havoc on Tesla Model S’ aerodynamics. Increasing airflow under the car will increase drag, which may ultimately reduce its overall range.