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Electronics & Test

Road Debris Causes Another Tesla Model S Battery Fire

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naperlou
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Blogger
a trend developing
naperlou   11/11/2013 8:44:43 AM
Chuck, I see a trend developing.  Three of the same type of accident in a month is a big number.  This is especially true if you consider the relatively small number of cars on the road.  I know that the Tesla S has sold well for a car in that price range, but it is still a small number compared to more mass market vehicles.  While the NHSTA claims that they found no violations of Federal safety standards or defect, this is probably because they do not really have enough information on these types of vehicles.  Frankly, Federal regulation in these areas tends to follow rather than lead. 

jhankwitz
User Rank
Platinum
Uncommon Trend?
jhankwitz   11/11/2013 12:13:28 PM
This may appear to be a trend, at least from a media perspective. These three incidents have been widely published by the media. Funny thing is that our local Fire Department responds to automobile fires on a regular basis, but I never hear about it in the news. This makes it difficult to determine if these 3 incidents are common or significant. 

It would be best if the Model S was recalled and fitted with armor in response to the media hype if nothing else.

Allen Koco
User Rank
Iron
Re: Uncommon Trend?
Allen Koco   11/11/2013 1:54:59 PM
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Each accident involved a different kind of obstacle. Reinforcing the armor plate will impact the cars weight and possibly make the front end heavier. In addition, the center of gravity may change. Impacting the performance. As noted in Elon's post nothing can prevent a 25ton force from punchering the the armor plating. They should consider retofitting the cars with an impact grill. A device that is mounted onto the front of the car, and lowered by the driver when needed to push debri out of the way. A ball hitch and curved metal piece would not impact the car thereby protecting the car's battery.

jhankwitz
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Uncommon Trend?
jhankwitz   11/11/2013 2:57:45 PM
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The front bumpers on my cars are already too low, causing severe scrapings whenever I park in a lot with curbs.  I can't imaging trying to drive in snow with a low grate plowing the roads and highways wherever I go.  They protect gas tanks, they should be able to protect batteries.  

NadineJ
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Platinum
Re: a trend developing
NadineJ   11/11/2013 4:31:03 PM
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The word trend isn't quite right but I agree that the laws and standards lag behind the technology.

It's more of a wake-up call.  I read that Tesla's investors filed a lawsuit last week stating that they had been "mislead".  I doubt that the company lied.  I think they got ahead of themselves on some things.

TJ McDermott
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Blogger
Statistics
TJ McDermott   11/11/2013 4:40:07 PM
Publishing equal statistics about Tesla vehicles vs. ICE vehicles in general, fires per 10,000 vehicles would put this in good perspective.

NadineJ
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Platinum
Re: Statistics
NadineJ   11/11/2013 4:45:22 PM
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Are there comparable situations from the past?  My understanding is that this may be unique to Tesla.  And, specifically unique to the Model S.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Statistics
TJ McDermott   11/11/2013 4:48:20 PM
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Another reader noted there are many car fires each year.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Perspective
Charles Murray   11/11/2013 6:25:06 PM
The numbers given last month by Elon Musk, which are very believable, are as follows: There is approximately one vehicle fire for every 20 million miles driven in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation, compared to one fire in every hundred million miles driven by a Tesla (that figure may have changed slightly over the past month). So, as of a month ago, Tesla was five times better in this area. So it's good to maintain perspective on this. This incident is NOT an indictment of Tesla or of electric cars. As we've said many times previously, it's also good to remember that gasoline-powered vehicles carry far more energy on board than EVs, and actually have more potential to wreak havoc. Having said that, though, previous incidents (especially the Boeing incidents) have raised public concerns about lithium-ion batteries. And if these incidents could be reduced by adding an extra eighth-of-an-inch (a 50% increase) to the armor plate on the bottom of the vehicle, would that be so bad?

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Perspective
NadineJ   11/12/2013 12:57:21 AM
I just got an email from Tesla today.  It was customer testimonial about the safety of the Model S in a recent incident.  Another email from Musk is scheduled for tomorrow. 

They are quick to reply!  Other car companies can learn from that.

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