October 4, 2019 12:45 PM, EDT

NHTSA Evaluating Complaint About Alleged Tesla Battery Flaw

Tesla Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received a petition calling for an investigation of certain Tesla Inc. electric cars and is evaluating the complaint, according to a notice posted on regulator’s website.

The petition, filed by a law firm representing Tesla drivers, alleges that Tesla updated battery management software in response to a potential defect that could lead to battery fires, according to the notice.

The law firm claimed that Tesla should have notified NHTSA of the potential defect and conducted a recall, NHTSA said in its notice.

NHTSA said it would evaluate the allegations and decide whether to grant the petition. If NHTSA grants it, the agency would launch a preliminary defect investigation into the issue under agency processes.

The petition was filed by the Law Offices of Edward C. Chen, a California law firm representing some Tesla drivers in the U.S. who have experienced “a significant amount of range loss” after the software updates, including one driver who sued Tesla over the issue in August, according to the petition.

The firm says drivers saw the range of their Teslas fall by 25 miles or more after Tesla released two battery management software updates beginning in May 2019. NHTSA estimates 2,000 Model S and Model X vehicles were affected.

Tesla representatives didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

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