Catching Fire Two Times In Half A Month: What’s Wrong With Tesla Model S?

CTVLinhC - May 16, 2019, 8:37 am IST


Tesla Model S is reported to catch fire in Shanghai late April, and recently, in the garage of San Francisco home. Although Tesla has been investigating the cause, they blame it on the owners' fault.

Around midnight on Friday, May 3, A Tesla Model S sedan was reported to catch fire inside the garage of a San Francisco home. The fire was quickly put out, and the vehicle was removed from the garage. However, the cause of the fire remains unknown.

Nearly two weeks ago, on April 22, the same Tesla model started a fire in a Shanghai's parking space. Videos from Weibo showed that the car emitted smoke before bursting into flames, affecting several nearby cars. Tesla is still investigating the accident’s cause. In December 2018, Business Insider reported that a Model S erupted into flames twice after suffering a flat tire in California, following a similar fire in Los Angeles.

Tesla-Model-S-Fire-Caught-On-Camera
Nearly two weeks ago, on April 22, Tesla Model S started a fire in a Shanghai's parking space.

The cars were not plugged in or charging at the time of the fire, for both three cases mentioned above. In San Francisco, the car experienced little damage and the building was not damaged. In Shanghai, after emitting smoke, Tesla Model S spread fire to some nearby cars, including an Audi. The car’s chip and battery were destroyed. Some month before, Tesla S caught on fire in a business parking lot of California. The car didn't undergo collision nor impact at that time.

The fires usually originate from somewhere near the batteries’ area. In Shanghai case, the smoke emerged from underneath, then exploded into flames some seconds later. Investigators said that the fire appeared to have started around the battery pack. San Francisco's Tesla Model S is reported to start burning near the rear right tire. And for the one in California, despite being immediately extinguished, continued to burn around batteries' area for a long time after that.

Statistics show that Tesla’s vehicles, including Model S, have experienced at least 14 accidents involving fires or flames in the past six years. Notably, almost all the cases occurred after collisions, some without any visible impact.

“Based on our work investigating the causes of car fires, there are many external factors that can lead to a fire, including building fires, vehicle damage, improper maintenance by unauthorized mechanics, after market modifications, improper vehicle charging, and even arson”, Tesla representatives said.

According to Tesla, their cars are approximately 10 times less likely to catch fire than the gas ones, and if they did, it would totally be the owners' fault. However, Tesla still promises to reduce the possibility that the cars catching fire to zero. On his personal Twitter account, CEO Elon Musk said: “Over a million combustion engine car fires per year and thousands of deaths, but one Tesla car fire with no injuries gets biggest headlines. Why the double standard?”

Elon-Musk-Tesla
Tesla promises to reduce the possibility that the cars catching fire to zero.

On the other hand, data from the National Fire Protection Association suggests the opposite. According to Business Insider, from 2011 to 2015, only 1.23 fire deaths per million cars happened annually in four years from 2011. Moreover, most of the fires result from vehicle collisions or outside impacts.

In the meantime, Tesla already had about 530,000 vehicles on the road, the majority of which are in the US. Therefore, Tesla's car would be expected to experience 1.19 deaths on average from 2016 to 2019. However, in reality, that is not what has happened. In May 2019, a Tesla crashed into a tree, then ignited, killing a man. A woman in New Hampshire also died after her car ignited, deriving from a crash in December 2018. Some months before that, a Tesla Model S controlled by two teenagers crashed into a wall. The battery caught fire, causing death. And there are more other cases recorded.

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