According to reports zooming around the Internet, an unnamed Tesla Model S driver hit something while driving in the HOV lane, causing the electric car to lose power. He pulled over at the car’s behest, and that’s when a fire started. Tesla did say today that the fire originated in the battery, though the compartmentalized design of the battery kept the blaze confined to the front trunk area. This gave the driver ample time to escape the car.
Firefighters arrived at the scene and put out the initial fire, but when they opened a window to get into the car the blaze reignited at the battery pack. The fire report states that spraying water on the fire only seemed to make it worse (duh) and the flames had to be extinguished with dry chemicals. The firefighters then “had to puncture multiple holes in the pack to apply water to the burning material in the battery”, which is where the real crux of the issue is.
Now to be clear, there are over 186,000 vehicle fires every year in America, and an overwhelming majority of them involve gas-powered cars and trucks. But the hysteria surrounding the Chevy Volt battery fire (which happened three weeks after the vehicle’s crash test) is sure to have Tesla on the defensive in regards to this latest mishap, and stock prices have fallen about 10% since the news broke yesterday.
Even though the Tesla Model S got a 5 star crash safety rating, you can’t account for driver error. Autonomous cars can’t come soon enough.