Armor plating can be retrofitted for free for existing Model S owners

The latter half of 2013 wasn’t exactly a happy time for Tesla Motors (and for at least two Model S owners).  There were two separate vehicle fires involving the company’s Model S electric sedan that occurred after the vehicles struck debris on the road. In one instance a Model S struck a tow hitch, while the incident saw a Model S strike a random piece of metal that was left on the road.
Striking the debris was enough to pierce though the quarter-inch thick aluminum “armor” plate beneath the Model S and ignite the lithium-ion batteries.
In light of these incidents, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is today taking steps to make sure that his already safe Model S is made even safer for its occupants. Musk first of all downplayed the fire risks, and called out gasoline-powered vehicles, stating, “The odds of fire in a Model S, at roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles, are five times lower than those of an average gasoline car and, when a fire does occur, the actual combustion potential is comparatively small.”

Tesla Model S
But in order to quiet critics and give current (and future) owners of the Model S more piece of mind, Tesla will be adding a titanium plate and aluminum shields to the vehicle’s underbody to deflect and absorb impacts from road debris.
The added titanium plate and aluminum shields don’t affect the structure or handling characteristics of the Model S, and only have a 0.1 percent impact on vehicle range. Musk stated that his company performed 152 vehicles tests using the new protection system in place and nothing was able to penetrate the Model S’ new defenses to cause a fire.
Musk also went on to state that all Model S vehicles built as of March 6 have the new protection system in place. In addition, all existing customers can have their vehicles retrofitted for free upon request at their next service visit.
Take a look at the animated images below to see the new protection system in action (filmed with vehicle-mounted high-speed cameras):

Three ball tow hitch

Concrete block

Source: Tesla Motors

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