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EDITORIAL: Electric cars are hot

Battery fires continue to plague the green motor crusade

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Electric cars are hot, but not necessarily in a good way. One of them, the Tesla Model S, ran over a rock in the road in Seattle early this month and burst into flames. The administration's friends, if not necessarily the Tesla Model S, can always count on a break. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the golden boy of the green car industry, drew a pass. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to investigate the incident.

"After reviewing all available data," the agency said, it "has not found evidence at this time that would indicate the recent battery fire involving a Tesla Model S was the result of a vehicle safety defect or noncompliance with federal safety standards." The 3 million viewers who have watched a scary video of the fire on YouTube, along with a more recent Model S fire in Mexico, might disagree. There was stock shock, too. Share prices of Tesla are down 15 percent this month.

The problem isn't unique to the Tesla Model S. The electric Fisker Karma has burned down houses in Texas. After Hurricane Sandy, the remains of 16 new Karmas sitting on a dock in New Jersey exploded on exposure to water. General Motors refused to acknowledge the flammability problems of its electric offering, the Chevy Volt, with a recall. Instead, it offered a "customer satisfaction program" inviting Volt owners to take the car to a dealer to get a fix.

Federal regulators seem to have no concern about the risk of further fires. This week, however, they expressed deep concern about the safety impact of silenced warning chimes. Ford Motor Co. was required to recall 23,000 late-model vehicles because the chimes wouldn't chime when the door opens.

Tesla has friends in high places who see that the company is treated with kid gloves and that the inherent danger in battery power is ignored. The administration has spent billions of dollars to create an electric car industry to make cars the American motorist doesn't want. A few battery fires can't get in the way of the green crusade to force Americans to trade their sedans for electric cars that cause only trouble.

Electric cars make liberals feel good, and nothing shows off sensitive "concern" for the environment like a little car without a tailpipe. The harmful battery components, the product of a strip mine, and the emissions at the plant that creates the batteries are hidden from sight. We've tried electric cars, and steam cars and other fads, but there's a reason why the internal combustion engine still rules the road. Short of a very long extension cord, none of the electrics are likely to threaten that rule.

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