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Tesla Motors douses fire concerns with upgraded wall charger

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Paul Sakuma/AP/File

(Read caption) Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks past the Tesla Model S after a news conference at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. Mr. Musk says there's no need for a recall after three Model S electric cars caught fire after crashes in the past six weeks.

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Tesla Motors is in the midst of another trial by fire.

The company faced public scrutiny after three accident-related Model S fires last fall, and now it'supgrading wall-charger adapters after complaints of overheating, Bloomberg reports.

Tesla will ship new charger connectors--which connect the Tesla charging cord to a wall outlet--to owners over the next two weeks, CEO Elon Musk said in an interview.

Musk noted that the overheating may be caused by substandard household wiring.

The decision comes after at least six reports of overheating wall chargers were posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum, and a garage fire in Irvine, California led to an investigation by the Orange County Fire Authority.

Tesla disputed the Fire Authority's conclusion that a Model S wall charger was the most likely cause.

Other incidents reported on the Tesla forum didn't lead to fires, but provide cause for concern nonetheless.

In October, one Model S owner reported "plumes of smoke" coming from the adapter, which had fused to the charging cord.

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In December, another said he burned his hands and arm trying to remove an overheated adapter after smelling burning plastic.

Tesla sent out a software update in December that updated the control software to cut charging if the building's wiring couldn't handle the load.

The updated software will reduce charging current by 25 percent if it detects any unexpected fluctuations.

The upgraded adapters Tesla is mailing out include thermal fuses designed to stop charging if the device overheats.

Musk said the company was unaware of any overheating incidents since the software update.

The additional step of replacing charger connectors should ease any concerns among Model S customers. It demonstrates Tesla's ability to react quickly to provide updates or modifications that correct problems under the glare of publicity.


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