U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 32 mins

Tesla car fires 'definitely' will not lead to recall: CEO

Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk talks about Tesla's new battery swapping program in Hawthorne, California June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

DETROIT (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) will not recall its Model S electric car despite three vehicle fires that raised safety questions and hurt the automaker's stock price, CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday.

"There's definitely not going to be a recall," Musk said during a New York Times DealBook conference televised on CNBC. "There's no reason for a recall, I believe."

Three Model S fires have been reported since early October, most recently in Tennessee last week. Two fires occurred after the Model S driver ran over a piece of debris that damaged the car's battery pack.

After Musk's comments, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reiterated that it was gathering information about the third fire.

NHTSA is also communicating with Tesla and Tennessee authorities to determine if additional action is needed, such as a deeper probe that may lead to a recall.

Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who made his mark as a PayPal founding member, characterized media coverage of the fires as "extremely misleading." The fire risk of a Model S was "five times less" than the average gasoline car, Musk said.

He also said critical comments made by actor George Clooney about his Tesla Roadster sports car were "needless" and "needlessly reported." Clooney's comments were published by Esquire magazine Monday.

Tesla shares have fallen almost 30 percent since October 1, following an almost six-fold increase in the stock during the first nine months of the year. The high stock price was "somewhat distracting," Musk said during Tuesday's conference.

"I think the stock should be a pretty good deal where it is right now, but it was probably a bit high before and that's my honest opinion," he added.

Tesla shares fell 4.8 percent on the Nasdaq to $137.80 on Tuesday. Shares were edging 1.7 percent higher in after-hours trading to $140.10 after Musk's comments.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman and Bernie Woodall; Editing by David Gregorio)