I must say that I find it typical and hypocritical to criticise three fires in obvious circumstances - of electric vehicles - when there are numerous people killed in gasoline / petrol powered vehicles, which are actually death-traps by comparison! If electric vehicles were the norm and gasoline vehicles had never been invented yet - imagine the safety risk in these new gasoline vehicles in comparison! Come on people - get realistic and objective please :-).
Apparently, Tesla has a new battery design in the works that has less of a chance of bursting into flames on impact. Until then drive slowly and on desolate roads with no oncoming traffic and you should be fine.
Speaking for myself, I would definitely not get into a car that catches fire every month through no fault of my own, let alone drive the damn thing myself. A good designer foresees future obstacles and sets in place measures meant to counter the same. The accidents simply mean that the manufacturers of the Tesla Model S electric car have simply not done their homework well enough.
@Battar: Trash on the road, while an example of carelessness on someone's part is nonetheless a part of road hazards all vehicles confront on a frequent basis. To design a vehicle incapable of handling them is irresponsible. Of course no engineer can foresee and protect against all hazards, but to have a high priced vehicle destroyed by a scrap of seems a bit ridiculous. How would this same vehicle handle buckeled pavement or a large pothole? Both of which I have encountered with a thud and shudder accompanied by a trip to a garage to have the front end realigned. I even hit a pothole, disguised as a puddle, big enough to flatten a tire and bottm out the frame, but there was no resulting fire.
As I have driven in various parts of the country over the last few years it has become obvious to me that there is a lot more road debris than there used to be in general, but certain areas look like distaster zones. I believe that due to budget cuts at the state and local level there is no longer anyone charged with cleaning up these roadways anymore. So the debris just collects. I can vividly remember an interstate near Detroit where for miles at a time the side of the roadway was so cluttered with debris (mostly shredded truck tires) it would not have been safe to pull off into the shoulder in case of emergency.
It is unfortunate that these cars have been the ones to hit the junk on the roadway. I wonder if the drivers could have avoided the objects, or if they had time to avoid them. I once damaged a car to the point of having to replace it when the frame hit an object that I never even saw since it was covered with snow. It damaged both frame and the oil pan, and a bit of one connecting rod. So the Tesla is not alone in being damaged. The difference is that my car didn't catch fire, it just died.
Possibly some smart designer can start selling an armor plate to protect the battery from road-rubble wreckage. No need for Tesla to do it, let somebody else who is good at armor design create the solution. An armor plate air-dam to prevent objects from getting under the car where they can do damage. Bounce them sideways, not up.
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This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.