NHTSA investigates Tesla Model S suspension issues

Detroit News wire reports

Detroit — The U.S. government is investigating Tesla Motors’ Model S sedan for potential problems with its suspension.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s seeking information from vehicle owners and from electric car-maker Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California.

People have posted multiple reports of possible Model S suspension failure on the agency’s website.

NHTSA says it’s also concerned Tesla has asked owners to sign nondisclosure agreements about safety issues. The agency says such agreements could prevent owners from reporting problems to the government.

NHTSA says it was told by Tesla the company didn’t intend to dissuade customers from reporting safety issues.

A message seeking comment was left with Tesla.

“My initial reaction is ‘welcome to the automotive world, Tesla,’ ” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for researcher Autotrader.com, said in a phone interview in regard to the suspension investigation. “As they start selling more cars and expanding, these kinds of things will come up so they have to be prepared for that.”

The company’s shares fell 2.6 percent to $229.36, the biggest drop since May 9.

The shares have declined 4.4 percent this year, while the Russell 1000 Index gained 3.5 percent. The shares had gained for four straight trading sessions before Thursday, when the company said it is adding a new, cheaper version of the Model S.