Print 76 comment(s) - last by Totally.. on Nov 16 at 8:07 PM

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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RE: Lithium batteries burn
By lelias2k on 11/12/2013 8:52:05 AM , Rating: 2
Because they are in a very fragile position.

They are going against some of the most powerful corporations in the world (oil), which are fighting left and right to prove that their technology is the wrong choice (I wonder why).

Although it is a fantastic car according to pretty much everybody who drove it (I haven't read or heard otherwise so far), it still has to prove itself in order to win the masses when the reasonably affordable models come to the market.

If the company fails now because of unjustified widespread panic (there's not enough sample to justify it and nobody got hurt in a Tesla yet, AFAIK), we might never see what they would be able to do in a few years with better and cheaper technology.

RE: Lithium batteries burn
By ven1ger on 11/12/2013 7:23:43 PM , Rating: 3
This is a key factor that everyone posting stats on vehicles.

The Tesla and other similar cars are in its infancy, so problems will arise. Gas powered cars have been on the road far longer that I have been alive, yet, we are comparing a mature gas powered vehicle and the amount of fires it has versus a virtually new type of car and the number of fires. Probably need to go back to how many gas powered cars caught on fire the first time it rolled out.

I think that as these kinds of cars mature, you'll find they are safer as they realize through real world testing that certain fragile parts should not be placed in certain areas or they need to beef up the shielding in some areas. Even the gas powered automobile had to go through all of this real world testing and we have much much more reliable vehicles. Same goes for these sort of vehicles.

RE: Lithium batteries burn
By Totally on 11/16/2013 8:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't ever dare say that the technology behind Tesla's vehicles is virtually new, batteries and dc motors have practically been around since the discovery of electricity, and outside of that is existing and continuing automotive tech, we've just about had a battery powered everything except planes and cars. When when the first automobiles rolled out there weren't computer simulations, extensive crash safety test, or safety regulations in general. Even though battery powered vehicles are 'new' the tech behind them is mature just not pushed to the limits like ICE vehicles. These problems are typical QA issues any new company in any field experiences with a new product. We don't hold back criticism for them, so why should we for Tesla motors. That said it's too early to say anything FOR or AGAINST, which is what i was trying to bring up earlier that it was hypocritical that the available data can be used in defense but unacceptable grounds criticism.

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