The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it is presently collecting information about the Tesla Model S fire last month in Washington state.
It is not a formal investigation at this juncture, and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland did not say whether it would go that far.
The fire in question was the first known for a Model S and got far more publicity than would a gas car that caught fire – a very common occurrence with thousands each year.
To date, there have been relatively few fires in proportion to the number of electric cars sold. The Chevy Volt was involved in a fire induced by a side-impact crash test that saw the government leave the car charged and begin to smolder a couple weeks later.
A Fisker Karma caught fire but it was blamed not on its lithium-ion battery, but an auxiliary fan that was then the cause of a recall.
Other incidents have seen a Volt consumed in a garage fire but not blamed as the source, and the same happened in an unsolved house fire for a Karma.
Tesla company head Elon Musk issued a blog post explaining a relative freak accident caused the fire tin the Model S, and he observed the record for internal combustion cars makes them five times more likely to catch fire than an electric car.