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This is the third fire in under a two-month period

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided to look into the latest fire involving Tesla Motors' Model S. 

According to The Detroit News, NHTSA will review what is now the third Model S to catch fire in under a two-month period. This most recent incident took place near Smyrna, Tennessee. 

The Tennessee fire took place when a Model S driver 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.

“NHTSA is in close communication with Tesla and local authorities gathering information about the incident to determine if additional action is necessary,” said NHTSA.

Special focus is being placed on the fact that the Model S' battery is located near the underside, making the battery an easy target when striking debris or hitting pavement -- thus increasing the risk of a fire.

This could lead to stronger methods of protecting the EV's battery pack. 

NHTSA has not opened a formal investigation on the Tesla crashes yet, likely because this is the first incident it's addressing.


Model S fire in Smyrna, Tenn. [Image Source: Associated Press]

But this isn't the first Tesla fire to occur. In early October, 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. He then exited the freeway, and the car became disabled right before he smelled something burning. The car caught fire.
 
Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said the fire was caused by a large metallic object hitting one of the battery pack’s modules. NHTSA did not investigate the fire at the time because of the partial government shutdown, which suspended such activity. 

Another Model S fire occurred shortly after in Mexico, but that's out of NHTSA's jurisdiction. 

Tesla said all three fires were caused by crashes; not spontaneous events.

Tesla and its Model S have been in the spotlight a lot this year after the company successfully paid off its government loans nine years early, pulled a profit, unveiled new tech for its electric car and the Model S even snagged the highest safety rating from the NHTSA. But it's unclear if this hiccup will further heighten the fear surrounding lithium ion batteries for cars, and possibly even take a toll on Model S sales. 

Source: The Detroit News



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By Sazabi19 on 11/11/2013 12:50:46 PM , Rating: 4
I can't downvote you comment :( This is different because these batteries were damaged, unlike the ones you are trying to compare. If the cars were sitting in a lot and simultaneously caught fire (I'm looking at you Fisker) then this would be a different story. In every event the battery has been compromised prior to a fire, there needs to be more/better shielding yes, but to compare this to what you are trying is asinine.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/11/2013 1:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
The cars got totaled, how is he supposed to fix that? If the battery is damaged, he can attempt to minimize it, but there is no way he is going to 100 percent protect them.


By ilt24 on 11/11/2013 1:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about 100%?

Two of the fires happened after the car ran over an object in the road. For these two the result of the fire is what totaled the car. I would think better protection for the battery would help limit the number of fires. btw in the other the car "hit a raised pedestrian crossing and briefly took flight before crashing into a wall and tree".


By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2013 1:54:49 PM , Rating: 1
Well they were totalled because of the fires. Running over things like pipes or whatever doesn't usually cause your car to be totalled entirely.

This is a design flaw. Small objects bumping into the underside of the vehicle shouldn't be causing catastrophic fires.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/11/2013 2:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
A trailer hitch isn't a small object...


By tayb on 11/11/2013 3:29:51 PM , Rating: 4
You make it sounds as if this guy ran over a quarter and the car exploded. Join us back in reality please.


By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2013 5:32:39 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You make it sounds as if this guy ran over a quarter and the car exploded. Join us back in reality please.


The reality is ICE cars don't burn to the ground from hitting road trash. YOU come back to reality.

If these were actual car accidents with heavy collision damage, okay fair enough. But these are very minor incidents that should NOT be resulting in the cars burning up.

This is a Tesla specific problem, just deal with it.


By tayb on 11/11/2013 8:22:37 PM , Rating: 3
We get it, you hate electric cars.


By flyingpants1 on 11/12/2013 6:20:30 AM , Rating: 2
Are you stupid? For once Reclaimer77 is not posting a bunch of BS, everything he said is 100% based in fact.

quote:
Then maybe Musk can cook up some "statistics" to explain why there are far more Nissan Leaf's on the road, and not a single one has caught fire?


quote:
ICE cars don't burn to the ground from hitting road trash.


quote:
This is a design flaw. Small objects bumping into the underside of the vehicle shouldn't be causing catastrophic fires.


This is all true.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/12/2013 8:02:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is a design flaw. Small objects bumping into the underside of the vehicle shouldn't be causing catastrophic fires.
Except, this isn't, these weren't "small" objects...


By flyingpants1 on 11/12/2013 11:24:55 AM , Rating: 2
They weren't exactly large either. As a Tesla enthusiast I'm disappointed, the car was supposed to be bulletproof.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/12/2013 1:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
A trailer hitch, solid metal, not exactly small... not sure what you consider "large" but a trailer hitch is going to do some pretty nasty damage to anything that runs over it...

Bulletproof? You have some very unreasonable expectations if you believe that...


By Reclaimer77 on 11/12/2013 12:45:23 PM , Rating: 1
I see no evidence if some massive collision here. Do you? The hood isn't crunched up, the frame isn't bent. At most the front bumper got damaged.

How should that have lead to the car being destroyed by fire? I'm trying yo understand what you mean.

The Model S has inadequate battery impact protection given its low ride height. This seems VERY obvious.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/12/2013 1:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
The damage was underneath, doesn't need to have damage on the hood, bumper or frame...


By Spuke on 11/12/2013 3:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The damage was underneath, doesn't need to have damage on the hood, bumper or frame...
Are we looking at the same pictures? The WHOLE front end is gone! That's more than just damage underneath. BTW, I've drive over trailer hitches before. My car didn't burn to the ground.


By Cheesew1z69 on 11/12/2013 4:33:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The WHOLE front end is gone!
Yes, AFTER the fire...

And I was replying to this....

quote:
I see no evidence if some massive collision here. Do you? The hood isn't crunched up, the frame isn't bent. At most the front bumper got damaged.


quote:
BTW, I've drive over trailer hitches before. My car didn't burn to the ground.
Great for you?


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