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Tesla CEO Elon Musk  (Source: Associated Press)
Musk added that a lot of the media has delivered "inaccurate" and "unreasonable" reports in regards to the Model S fires

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has responded to the recent Model S fires occurring around North America and he made one thing clear: there will not be a Model S recall
 
“There’s definitely not going to be a recall," said Musk according to a new report from Bloomberg. "We’re about five times less likely to have a fire than an average gasoline car. There are 200,000 gasoline car fires per year in the United States, 200,000. There are on average 250 to 300 automotive fire deaths in the U.S. How many times have you read about that?”
 
Musk added that a lot of the media has delivered "inaccurate" and "unreasonable" reports in regards to the Model S fires. 
 
Musk's comments were prompted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) decision to review the most recent Model S fire.


The first fire took place in early October of this year. A Model S driver in Kent, Washington was traveling southbound on State Route 167 when he hit a piece of metal debris on the freeway and subsequently caught fire.
 
Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said that a large metallic object hitting one of the battery pack modules caused the fire. The NHTSA did not investigate the fire at the time because of the partial government shutdown, which suspended such activity. 
 
The second Model S fire occurred shortly after near Merida, Mexico, but that's out of NHTSA's jurisdiction. 
 
The third incident occurred just days ago when a Model S driver in Murfreesboro, Tennessee hit a tow hitch on Interstate 24, which damaged the car’s undercarriage and caused a fire. The driver was able to exit the vehicle safely.
 
Special focus is being placed on the fact that the Model S' battery is located low in the body (to make for a lower center of gravity), making the battery an easy target when striking debris or hitting pavement.
 
Tesla said all three fires were caused by crashes; not spontaneous events.

Source: Bloomberg



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Statistics
By YearOfTheDingo on 11/13/2013 10:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
According to the data from the NHTSA between 2006-2008, there were 57 vehicle fires for every 1 billion kilometers driven. What could be the distance collectively driven by the Model S I wonder. How many of them are out there on the road?




RE: Statistics
By docinct on 11/13/2013 11:11:46 AM , Rating: 4
From the NFPA website:
"U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year in 2006-2010. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage.

Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in roughly two-thirds of the automobile fires.
Collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, but these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths."


RE: Statistics
By Stuka on 11/13/2013 2:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
We would have to break down all the other fire incidents by vehicle age. I would imagine a vast majority of all fires have occurred on older, poorly maintained vehicles.

I want to see the Tesla compared directly to fires involving CURRENT MODELS ONLY. There are way too many 20-30yo vehicles with improvised repairs by multiple owners to compare all results to a brand new vehicle well-within the manfacturer's warranty.


RE: Statistics
By Reclaimer77 on 11/13/2013 2:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Even that wouldn't be beneficial. Fires aren't what we're looking for. Specifically it's impacts to the underside of the battery compartment resulting in these fires.

You would have to correlate every incident of an ICE running over an object or median to how many of these resulted in a vehicle fire. Good luck lol.


RE: Statistics
By kleinma on 11/13/2013 3:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
Where do you live that there are so many 30 year old cars on the road???

Even on a modest milage count of 12k per year, you are talking about a vehicle with 360,000 miles on it. 240,000 miles if we are on the low end at 20 years.

While I am sure some exist out there with that kind of milage, 15 years is usually the age limit for cars these days.


RE: Statistics
By puter_geek_01 on 11/14/2013 11:22:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where do you live that there are so many 30 year old cars on the road???


Obviously you've never driven in rural Iowa...


RE: Statistics
By bsd228 on 11/14/2013 2:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Even on a modest milage count of 12k per year, you are talking about a vehicle with 360,000 miles on it. 240,000 miles if we are on the low end at 20 years.


12k is hardly a modest mileage count. I just retired a 17 yo car with 152k on it, and its last 5 years as my only car it only did 30. If you don't use it to get to work, or your work commute is minor, the miles don't pile on. That said, at 17 it was showing its age. The paint and body looked decent, but the shocks were gone, the wiring getting a little flaky, the door seals weren't at all like they were. I suspect that 15-20 is where most go offline, or become that spare car in the driveway, doing light miles and spending a lot of time getting fixed.


RE: Statistics
By Keeir on 11/14/2013 10:22:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is.

Data shows that both the Average and Median US licensed driver logs more than 13,500 miles a year.

Data also shows that the average age of a registered car is ~11 years.

The typical car in the US "retires" between 15-25 years old with 200k to 250k miles on it.


RE: Statistics
By tastyratz on 11/15/2013 11:56:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't doubt your data but am curious of your source? Link?


RE: Statistics
By Keeir on 11/15/2013 8:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Statistics
By protomech on 11/13/2013 11:24:41 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-fire

"The nationwide driving statistics make this very clear: there are 150,000 car fires per year according to the National Fire Protection Association, and Americans drive about 3 trillion miles per year according to the Department of Transportation. That equates to 1 vehicle fire for every 20 million miles driven, compared to 1 fire in over 100 million miles for Tesla."

Musk may being generous here, and including Roadster miles driven in Tesla's tally. If you count the Mexico fire (due to high-speed collision) and assume 80M miles just for the Model S, then you still come back with 27M miles per each of the three reported fires.


RE: Statistics
By kattanna on 11/13/2013 1:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
what would be interesting to also know is out of the 150,000 car fires per year, how many were not due to accidents? just some malfunction.

all of tesla's fires have been due to some sort of accident/road debris


RE: Statistics
By YearOfTheDingo on 11/13/2013 3:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
As another commenter noted above, collisions and overturn accounts for only 4% of the fires. That's a smaller percentage compared to intentional (10%) and exposure (5%).

Since only 2% of the fires started in the fuel system, I suspect a great many of them are the result of botched oil changes: a rag left behind or a cap that wasn't properly tightened.


RE: Statistics
By chuckus on 11/15/2013 1:47:42 AM , Rating: 3
Update from the owner of the most recent fire:
http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-owner-tenn...


RE: Statistics
By mjv.theory on 11/13/2013 1:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just fires that need to be taken into account. When a Model S has an "underside" collision causing battery pack damage it may result in a fire. What could/would/might happen to a "normal" car, that lacks underside protection, when struck from below by heavy lumps of curved metal. Perhaps an occupant would be injured/killed, perhaps such an impact would cause an unprotected vehicle to crash but not cause a fire.

Focusing on vehicle fires draws attention away from the fact that these were "crashes", impacts, that happened to result in fires. A statistical analysis on purely vehicle fires could well lead to the wrong conclusions.


RE: Statistics
By DanNeely on 11/13/2013 2:35:05 PM , Rating: 2
An underside impact could puncture the gas tank or sever the fuel line triggering a fuel leak and starting a fire. Tesla's battery packs are much more heavily armored than the fuel system on a conventional ICE vehicle.


RE: Statistics
By Totally on 11/13/2013 10:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
With the advent of pressurized, double-walled, self-sealing tanks and how gasoline itself burns is less likely to start a major fire.


RE: Statistics
By Reclaimer77 on 11/13/2013 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
Using statistics in that matter is an easy way to cover the truth.

What's important here is all Tesla model S fires have the exact same cause: something impacted the battery compartment from underneath the car, causing a catastrophic failure of the battery resulting in fire.

I'm sorry but that can't be coincidence and we can't chalk that up to statistical happenstance.

I think Musk is making a huge mistake by not doing a recall. He cannot afford to lose face with his base. When you are paying this much money for a vehicle, you need to have some peace of mind that this very common occurrence, running over road debris, isn't going to result in the total loss of your vehicle and a possibly dangerous fire.

There are about 65,000 Nissan Leaf's on the road, and not a single incidence of vehicle fire. Presumably they've been involved in similar incidents; running over stuff. So clearly SOMETHING with Tesla's design needs to be shored up.


RE: Statistics
By ritualm on 11/13/2013 6:43:48 PM , Rating: 1
Jesus Crust, you are retarded.
quote:
What's important here is all Tesla model S fires have the exact same cause: something impacted the battery compartment from underneath the car, causing a catastrophic failure of the battery resulting in fire.

A small piece of rock is a huge threat to the ISS because, even when they seem to be moving very slowly relative to each other, they are in reality flying at very high speeds relative to the Earth they're orbiting around. The small foreign objects that totaled the unlucky Model S's can be likened to a razor-sharp sewing needle popping a balloon.

Just how much protection does the battery pack need to have before you'd consider it safe?
quote:
I think Musk is making a huge mistake by not doing a recall.

Doing a recall would be a big mistake. The same objects can hit the underside of a regular car and cause HUGE damage, including but not limited to killing everyone inside. These things hit the Model S' battery first, so the car itself takes the fatal hit while giving its occupants ample time to evacuate to safety.

Your comparison to the Nissan Leaf is stupid. The Leaf's battery is so much smaller than the Tesla's - that immediately reduces its risk exposure by virtue of limited surface area. What the Leaf doesn't have is supercar handling like the Tesla, total curb weight notwithstanding.

You are more likely to die in a car accident than you would be killed in a terrorist attack. To apply that logic to this article, you are more likely to walk away from a Tesla Model S alive than you would with any other vehicle under the same extraordinary sequence of events.


RE: Statistics
By Reclaimer77 on 11/13/2013 7:05:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The same objects can hit the underside of a regular car and cause HUGE damage, including but not limited to killing everyone inside.


And you call me retarded?

Your analogies about the ISS were stupid enough. But this takes the cake.

Please go find me all the stories about someone running over a tow hitch and it killing everyone inside. Or a piece of pipe or metal debris. Are you hearing yourself?

quote:
you are more likely to walk away from a Tesla Model S alive than you would with any other vehicle under the same extraordinary sequence of events.


What you can "walk away" from was never even part of this discussion. Half of your post isn't even addressing any actual point anyone was making, certainly not any point of mine.

Also there's nothing at all "extraordinary" about running into or over something. It happens all the time, every day. And rarely results in the car catching on fire and being totaled.

Do yourself a favor, if you're going to open a post with calling someone retarded, what follows needs to not BE completely and utterly retarded.


RE: Statistics
By Keeir on 11/14/2013 1:23:58 AM , Rating: 3
Amazingly for an electric car article, I agree completely here.

As a structural engineer, the likely fix for this issue is a relative low cost item. Similar to the Volt fix involving a 100 dollar max peice of metal.

Tesla and Musk should just admit there appears to be a weak point that while meets regulations and passenger safety is preventing the Model S from being the Best Car on the road. Then go fix it. Cheaply and on a normal servicing. If they let this go on, it could become a much more expensive recall.


RE: Statistics
By Reclaimer77 on 11/14/2013 9:09:14 AM , Rating: 3
Lol the Apocalypse is upon us!!

Now seriously, I agree. This is an obvious structural issue that's easily solved. Why are people being so resistant?

Toyota was raked over the coals for a phantom issue that had way less evidence backing it than this Tesla issue.


RE: Statistics
By Richard875yh5 on 11/14/2013 9:22:34 AM , Rating: 1
I agree. Musk should recall those cars. If he doesn't he can kill his company goodbye. Maybe in either case he can kill his company goodbye.


Like Concord - Pull it! (Sarcasm!)
By mnsear on 11/13/2013 11:06:51 AM , Rating: 1
Seriously, yes maybe some batter shielding on the underside of the battery pack might help?

Ballistic grade Kevlar? Relatively cheap for what is undoubtedly an expensive battery pack - and a light mod of course.

Don't see a problem myself?




RE: Like Concord - Pull it! (Sarcasm!)
By mnsear on 11/13/2013 11:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's not exactly like the issue with an A380 for example...


By Isidore on 11/13/2013 12:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
A380? Don't you mean the Boeing Dreamliner? and Concorde has an 'e'......


Tesla fires
By Richard875yh5 on 11/14/2013 9:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
Does Elon Musk really think he can over-rule the NHTSA? If NHTSA says they will be a recall then they will be a recall.....and there should be. Those fires were no small fires like many of the ICE have and are counted. Those three Tesla fires were huge and it was lucky no one got hurt.




RE: Tesla fires
By flyingpants1 on 11/17/2013 6:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
Hahaha. No genius, he didn't say he has the power to overrule the federal government. Actually he said they are in constant contact with the NHTSA and they are not focused on Tesla because they have unsafe actual cars that hurt and kill people to worry about.

quote:
Those three Tesla fires were huge and it was lucky no one got hurt.


Haters
By ReloadAO on 11/13/2013 11:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
...gonna hate!




Yet another...
By NicodemusMM on 11/13/2013 4:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
.... article where the title and photo scream 'More by Tiffany'. Didn't even have to click it to know. I guess in this case at least the same body of text is out there enough that a political spin couldn't be woven in.




bad drivers
By Samus on 11/13/2013 5:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
I've been reading a lot about Tesla's involved in accidents. Some idiot in Chicago totaled his on a lake shore drive off ramp and I've read at least twice this year about vehicles that were totalled in Oregon. I know this isn't a huge statistic pool, but these guys hitting debris on the highway... are they just not paying attention? Use some of that suspension tuning to swerve around it, unless your too busy on your cell phone or don't have a care in the world to protect you six-figure investment.

Its just crazy. I've never heard from anybody I know in 30+ years about damage from road debris, because we avoid running over it. With the exception of a possum that darted out and got sacked by my front tire, I've never hit anything on the road, stationary or otherwise, and most of my vehicles are AT LEAST as low as the model S: Z3, SVT Focus, Miata, Protégé, Escort, Mustang, XJ8, and so on.

The frequency of these guys hitting objects laying on the roadway brings serious concerns about the drivers of Tesla's more so than the Tesla vehicles. If this keeps happening they'll have to raise the front battery cavity.

Of course none of this will be an issue with the Model X, probably a more practical vehicle for the apparently bad drivers Tesla is attracting.




Hi
By flyingpants1 on 11/14/2013 7:40:54 AM , Rating: 2
The obvious thing to do would be to get a few BMW 5-7 series and a few Teslas lifted to the same height, then drive them over trailer hitches at 90mph and see what happens.




3rd grade news?
By BillyBatson on 11/13/13, Rating: -1
RE: 3rd grade news?
By kleinma on 11/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: 3rd grade news?
By BillyBatson on 11/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: 3rd grade news?
By superflex on 11/15/2013 10:24:09 AM , Rating: 2
No one likes a spelling and grammar Nazi.


RE: 3rd grade news?
By BillyBatson on 11/16/2013 7:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree but hen it's a news article that the writer is getting paid for and I had counted 4 mistakes before I stopped reading that's a little excessive and it wasn't just grammar but worded poorly. It's really bringing down the quality of news at DT.


RE: 3rd grade news?
By typicalGeek on 11/25/2013 5:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
If someone is being PAID to write they should do it well, just as with any other job. It's one thing to ignore spelling and grammatical errors in the comment section. After all, we're not making any assumptions that the person commenting is a professional writer. However, to allow such obvious mistakes to be written in an article on what is supposed to be a professional tech news site is pretty sloppy to say the least.

How would you like your auto mechanic to take the attitude that doing things semi-correctly is close enough?


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