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Tesla Recalls 29,000 Model S Chargers Over Fire Concerns

The NEMA 14-50 adapters could overheat while charging, potentially leading to the melting of the adapter, cord, and socket—or "in a worst-case scenario, fire."

[Image: Flickr user jecoopr]

Tesla is recalling 29,000 Model S charging adapters over concerns about potential fire hazards. In a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company noted its NEMA 14-50 adapters could overheat while charging, potentially leading to the melting of the adapter, cord, and socket—or "in a worst-case scenario, fire."

Tesla's solution to the voluntary recall is an over-the-air software update that will reduce heat generated in high-resistance connections. The company says the issue affects less than 3% of its chargers. With the update, the onboard charging system will be able to detect unexpected fluctuations in input power and respond by reducing the charging current by 25%. Though Tesla says the update will fully address the issue, it is also engineering a new adapter plug with a thermal fuse to improve reliability. The chargers will be mailed to customers for free when they become available.

Jerome Guillen, Tesla sales vice president, said 99% of Model S adapters already received the software update, which was released last month. "This is one of the safest, if not the safest, cars on the road," he said, noting Model S cars have been driven 168 million miles.

Three high-profile fires involving the Model S occurred in the fall, but CEO Elon Musk asserts that the risk of fire in a gas-powered car is five times greater than with Tesla's electric cars.