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Tesla's CEO: 'Recall' not a word that makes sense here

Tesla stock was up more than 12 percent Tuesday afternoon on heavy volume after the company issued sales figures for the fourth quarter, with deliveries of 6,900 vehicles coming in 20 percent above guidance.

The company also told reporters at the Detroit auto show that it expects its global sales and service footprint to double in 2014, calling the story for this year one of "reckless growth."

Also Tuesday, federal safety regulators classified as a "recall" Tesla's move to provide upgraded wall adapters and charging software for up to 29,222 owners of 2013 Model S vehicles, citing the risk of fire.

Last Friday, the electric car maker said it was providing customers with the new adapter and software upgrade to prevent overheating of its charging systems.

Tesla Model S
Source: Tesla Motors
Tesla Model S

"An overheated adapter, cord, or wall receptacle, increases the risk of burn injury and/or fire,'' according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Tesla never used the words "recall" or "fire" in Friday's announcement, and cars will not have to be physically brought in for repairs.

In an interview on CNBC's Closing Bell, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the word "recall" shouldn't apply in this case, as the remedy for the Model S cars can be made without taking the car in to the shop.

Earlier in the day Musk tweeted, "The word 'recall' needs to be recalled," citing what he called "some confusion in media reports."

Last week's announcement by Tesla came after a November garage fire involving a Model Sin Irvine, Calif., which the Orange County Fire Authority said may have been caused by a Tesla charging system or by a connection at the electricity panel on the wall of the garage.

At the time,Tesla disagreed with the fire officials' findings, contending that the charging electronics were not related to the fire. In Friday's statement, Tesla said its goal was to prevent excessive heating of the adapters used to charge its cars. A variety of factors ranging from corrosion to inappropriate wiring of electrical outlets can cause overheating, the company said.

Separately,three road fires in Model S sedans caused Tesla's stock to fall sharply in October, and NHTSA is investigating the two that took place in the United States. Last November, Musk said a recall related to the three road fires was not necessary.

—By Reuters and CNBC.com

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