Tesla investigates after flaming vehicle incident

Tesla faces more bad news on the eve of the electric vehicle maker's Auckland showroom opening.

Mary McCormack tweeted a video of her husband's Tesla in flames (see clip below).

The West Wing star says there was "no accident." The vehicle caught fire "out of the blue."

She later tweeted that the car was "barely moving in traffic" and not in auto-pilot mode. Tesla had yet to get in contact.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze. No one was hurt but it's publicity the EV maker does not need when it's already grappling with controversy over another accident that potentially involved its assisted-driving technology.

Tesla told US network ABC News, "We offer our support to local authorities and are glad our customer is safe. This is an extraordinarily unusual occurrence, and we are investigating the incident to find out what happened."

The company says its EVs are less likely to catch fire than petrol-powered cars.

After making do with a pop-up presence over the past 18 months, Tesla is putting the finishing touches on its first New Zealand showroom and service centre. Despite its limited presence, the company is already leading the pack in local pure-EV sales, and could get a further boost from Auckland's 10% petrol tax.

The company's shares rose last week after it announced another big loss and plans to lay off 9% of its global workforce, but also progress in chipping away at its massive backlog of orders as production increased. Founder Elon Musk says the company is on track to turn a profit in the third or fourth quarter.

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