In response to two road debris-induced road fires that were front page news, Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model S will get a titanium-reinforced underbody shield. That should silence the haters and doubters who thought the Tesla was a firetrap.
All new Tesla Model S sedans built after March 6th have been equipped with the new battery shield, and existing Model S customers can get the upgrade, free of charge. The battery shield consists of three seperate layers of aluminum and titanium designed to deflect and absorb energy from road debris before it ever reaches the battery pack.
The first layer consists of a rounded, hollow aluminum bar designed to deflect objects, or force them to “pike” well before the battery pack, preventing critical failure and fire. Behind that is the titanium plate made to absorb the energy, and behind that is a shallow-angle aluminum extension further absorbing and deflecting energy. Though not as intricate as an earlier battery protection concept, the results are just as effective.
The results, captured by Tesla on high-speed film, show that the new system is preventing battery damage from road debris from the likes of a three-ball hitch, concrete, and even a discarded alternator. Over the course of 152 tests, not a single one damaged the battery to the point it caught fire. With the recent GM ignition recall debacle, Elon Musk’s excellent handling of a potentially brand-damaging media sensation should serve as a lesson to older, established automakers. This is how you treat your customers, going above and beyond what is called for.
No wonder the Tesla Model S is number one in customer satisfaction.