By now, most followers of the electric car market know that another Tesla Model S caught fire in early February. The blaze happened in a homeowner’s garage in Toronto. After parking the car, the owner left his garage. Moments later, the smoke detector blared, the fire department was called, and the car was ruined. To date, no one knows why.
Within days, though, three predictable things happened: Media outlets reported the story, electric car proponents complained about the coverage, and electric car non-believers cited the fire as one more reason why EVs are doomed.
None of that surprises anyone, of course. The same news-anger-doom cycle has been repeating itself for about two years, every time an electric car catches fire.
Maybe it’s time to get a grip. For some it may be hard to believe, but the decision to cover or not cover an electric car fire isn’t typically an emotional one. It’s a tough choice. EV technology is still new to a degree. An unknown to many, it's costly, current, and under study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Truth be told, EV proponents are just as interested in this subject as the detractors. If you don’t believe that, look at the Tesla Motors online forums. Commenters there, most of whom are true believers, are buzzing about the latest Model S fire. They too want to know what happened.
At some point we’ll all find out. NHTSA might decide that the Model S needs a thicker armor plate, a different cooling system, some other kind of design tweak.
But if there is a change, it will be a tweak. It won’t be a huge fix. Nor will it be a sign that EV batteries are inherently unsafe. Remember, gasoline is far more energetic than lithium-ion chemistry, as is jet fuel. Yet every day, engineers successfully design safe cars that burn gasoline. They design safe planes that burn jet fuel. They design safe machines that burn coal, hydrogen, and even uranium. In all cases, they take a package of energy, figure out how to use it in a productive way, and then build in safeguards.
There’s no reason they can’t do the same with electric car batteries. Maybe the safeguards need to be strengthened. Doing so may add cost, but it can be done, easily.
To be sure, pure electric cars face challenges ahead. Battery energy density is still low and cost is high. Those are real problems. But the miniscule number of battery fires that have occurred to date shouldn’t cause an issue. The news coverage can and should continue, but the anger and doom need to be ratcheted down a few notches.
Engineers will fix this problem. That’s what engineers do.
Your post is much less accurate. This is an engineering venue; not fiction or magic.
Tesla suspected of Toronto garage fire.
Your magic vapor hypothesis doesn't seem to hold up to logic or facts. Seems to be a less than honest attempt to divert scrutiny away from Tesla. Your magic vapor hypothesis, seems a lot like moon landing conspiracies hypothesis, twin tower controlled demolition/missile hypothesis, etc.
Maybe Elvis started the Tesla fire (sarcasm). The point being is that extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence.
I think Elvis being a Tesla arsonist is about as likely and as well supported as your magic vapor hypothesis.
"Where did all that energy come from?"
As I previously pointed out, the energy could have come from the 12 V accessory battery or the high-voltage traction battery. As I've pointed out before the 12 V battery, many accessories and wiring is surrounding the Tesla Frunk and could be sources of the fire. Allegedly the fire department indicated that the fire was from the Frunk area.
"But it would not cause an explosion."
Igniting accumulated gasoline fumes in a confined area would likely result in an explosion.
"in the pictures it is impossible to know if there was or wasn't an explosion anyways"
"the damage to the garage is too severe for it to have come from the Tesla"
"the damage to the garage is too severe for it to have come from the Tesla considering the battery was unharmed"
There's more than one battery. Electrical fires can start without harming the battery.
I suspect that the news release by Tesla meant that the traction battery was unharmed. There is a possibility that the 12 V accessory battery was harmed.
I think the most likely scenario is, an electrical fire may have started in the Tesla, and the fire may have spread to the garage.
Tesla suspected in garage fire in orange county California.
"noted that the UMC was not damaged in the report"
Wrong. That is a lie that has been chronically spammed by Tesla shills. They are deliberately taking the report out of context and or they are ignorant of Tesla designs
The report indicates that the UMC was not burned between the car and the module. The UMC does not stop at the module. The Tesla UMC was burned from the module to the wall plug/adapter. So that means that the UMC adapter that is recalled for a fire hazard, may have been the source, part of the source or a contributing factor to the garage fire in California.
You Tesla shills have cherry picked the fire investigation report to take it out of context. It would take someone ignorant of Tesla design to believe such misrepresentation.
Here are some larger excerpts from the orange county fire investigation that are in context.
"The cord was not damaged between the plug at the vehicle end and the control box. The control box was melted on one end from external heat. All the insulation between the control box and the wall plug was consumed during the fire"
"The most probable cause of this fire is a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connectorfrom the Tesla charging system plugged into the 240v wall socket."
In other words the Tesla UMC was burned from the module ("control box") to the wall outlet. That's why the Tesla UMC is listed as a possible source of the garage fire in California.
The Tesla UMC adapter that is part of the recall, is part of the suspected source of the Tesla fire in California. The connectors between the adapter and the module are known to be a fire hazard.
Boeing responded quickly, volunteering to cooperate and submit information.
Tesla (Elon Musk) resisted investigators and has dragged its feet. Tesla is still dragging their feet on the Tesla model S. recall of the charge adapters. In regards to the battery fires, Elon Musk defiantly through a temper tantrum saying there would be "no recall".
In regards to the battery fires, Tesla had to be issued a request for information.
Boeing seems eager to try to find and fix safety issues. Tesla seems eager to deny, redirect blame and cover-up safety issues. I think the attitude for safety at Boeing is healthy. I think the attitude for safety at Tesla is very sick.
Oh, I certainly don't disagree that Tesla needs to address these concerns, and I'm glad we're hearing reports of these incidents.
But three incidents do not constitute an epidemic, just as the Dow losing 200 points doesn't constitute a "plunge." The probability of even any given Tesla owner being injured from this, let alone the public at large, is negligible (based upon current stats at least).
What bothers me is that I recently took a test drive in a Model S, and it was an absolutely stunning machine - a quite exceptional work of technology! However, when I've mentioned it to some of my coworkers, their immediate association was: Tesla = fires. That's really unwarranted (again, based upon current stats at least).
" "The epidemic of Tesla Model S fires continues unabated!" "
I googled your quote, and found no such headlines or news content. Your post was the only thing Google found. Seems like you're being sensationalistic yourself. You seem to be debating things you have fabricated.
Tesla's are a fire hazard. There has been a recall due to faulty Tesla charge connectors that are a fire hazard. Tesla (Elon Musk) promised that upgraded replacement charger adapters with thermal fuses would be mailed out within two weeks, yet over a month later customers have not received the adapters and had not notified of the fire hazard via mail.
There seemingly is about 30,000 Teslas that have a fire hazard that has been known for about a year or more. Yet Tesla seems to still be dragging its feet, playing blame games, and playing semantics.
Tesla has raised the ride height, which has reduced the threat to the traction batteries, however it is arguable whether that's is sufficient. Many including myself, think the battery should be better shielded.
If anything I think the media has been giving Tesla favorable treatment and treating them with kid gloves. I think the media isn't doing what it is supposed to be doing. I think the media should do more investigation, be more skeptical and be more critical of Tesla. Most of the media reports about Tesla, seem more advertising & shilling for Tesla. I don't know of a single news story that I would consider good reporting about Tesla's fire hazards. I haven't seen a single news report about Tesla failing to fulfill the recall on the Tesla faulty Tesla charge connections.
Will Tesla's faulty designs have to kill someone before people wake up and smell the coffee?
Many of us warned long before Tesla had any battery fires, that lithium batteries are dangerous, flammable and explosive. Tesla fan boys assured us we were wrong, that the Tesla and it's batteries were safe.
Tesla fan boys don't realize that there are dangers in nearly everything. Generally the more energy and the more energy density involved, the greater the potential danger.
As you probably know:
In some ways lithium batteries are more dangerous than gasoline. If you shoot (or otherwise puncture) a lithium battery, it's quite likely that you're going to have a fire and or explosion. If you shoot (or otherwise puncture) a gasoline tank, it is unlikely to catch fire or explode.
Years ago many of us have warned that as a lithium batteries age they are likely to become more prone to failure because they are likely to short from wear & tear and insulation deterioration. Mark my words, as lithium batteries age they are likely to become more prone to catastrophic failure. All it takes is one little short, that can cause a major thermal runaway.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
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