A U.S. security official has opened an investigation into Tesla Inc. alleging that the company failed to inform its owners and individuals about fire hazards related to solar system damage for several years, according to a letter from the agency.
The investigation has raised eyebrows at some of the world’s most important automotive machinery companies, which have focused on federal safety investigations on accidents affecting its drivers’ support systems. Fire alarms from Tesla’s solar systems have already been published, but this is the first report of an investigation conducted by a security guard.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed Tesla’s investigation in response to a request by Steven Henkes, a former Tesla national manager, who filed a complaint against solar panels in 2019 and asked the agency for more information on the report. .
“We have confirmed to staff at the Division of Enforcement that the search for records is still ongoing and ongoing,” the SEC said in a September 24 response to Henkes’ refusal to request his release. The SEC chief executive said that the letter should not be taken as an indication that the commission has committed a crime. Reuters confirmed that the SEC’s letter was valid.
Henkes, a former manager of the Toyota Motor quality division, was fired from his job at Tesla in August 2020 and sued Tesla claiming the dismissal was retaliation for safety reasons. Tesla did not respond to queries sent by Reuters, while the SEC declined to comment.
In a complaint to the SEC, Henkes said Tesla and SolarCity, acquired in 2016, did not specify “its responsibility and disclosure of property damage, consumer risk, fire and other damages to owners” prior to and after acquisition.
Tesla also failed to inform its customers that weak electrical wiring could cause a fire, according to complaints.
Tesla told consumers that it needs to repair solar panels to avoid failures that could shut down the system. It did not warn of fire hazards, provide temporary closures to reduce risk, or explain problems to regulators, Henkes said.
Tesla shares fell 5.5 percent at $ 960.25 Monday after a Reuters report.
More than 60,000 U.S. customers and 500 government and business accounts have been affected, according to a lawsuit filed in November last year against Tesla Energy for misconduct.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Henkes, a long-time manager at Toyota in the North American quality division, moved to SolarCity as a top engineer in 2016, just months before Tesla bought SolarCity. After the purchase, his job changed and he realized the problem was widespread, he told Reuters.
Henkes, in a SEC complaint, said he had told Tesla executives that Tesla should shut down the solar panels, alert security officials and alert customers. When his phones were ignored, he submitted complaints to the controllers.
“The attorney general warned that any public consultation on the matter could tarnish Tesla’s reputation. To me this is a criminal offense,” he said in a statement to the SEC.
Cases and concerns over Tesla’s misalignment and solar problems began several years ago. Walmart in the 2019 lawsuit against Tesla said the last solar ceiling caused a fire in seven stores. Tesla denied the allegations and the two settled.
Business Insider also reported on Tesla’s program to replace solar panels that crashed in 2019.
Several residential customers or their insurers have sued Tesla and its Amphenol supplier for a fire related to their solar panels, according to documents provided by the PlainSite transparent team.
Henkes also filed a complaint with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which CNBC said this year was investigating the matter. CPSC and Amphenol did not respond to a request for comment.