By 2025, 1.3 million drivers worldwide will be told to avoid their Model S electric cars after accident, analyst
A safety watchdog found “no evidence” to warrant its decision to initiate an investigation into Tesla’s Model S electric cars that caught fire over the weekend.
Shares in the carmaker fell 2.7% after the preliminary findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday were reported by the Associated Press.
The car, a Model S, was one of 13 in a convoy of 10 Teslas that rolled over while part of a test in snowy conditions on a rural highway in Washington state on Saturday. Tesla said the car’s software automatically stopped the vehicle after it applied the emergency brake, but that the brakes alone could not have been sufficient to prevent a fire.
Bloomberg cited the highway safety board’s preliminary report as saying that the vehicle’s architecture suggested that a loss of power that occurred as a result of this type of rollover could lead to a fire, and that the safety board is not ready to draw any conclusions about whether this happened.
California launches investigation into Teslas after one caught fire Read more
Tesla has said that one fire was caused by the vehicle rolling off the road, but three others were due to related mechanical issues. The Tesla Motors Club provides detailed information on every single Tesla fire. None of the fires were attributable to any malfunction of the car or the power packs contained within it.
Tesla has sold more than 200,000 Model S cars globally and has plans to more than double production by the end of next year. An electric car crash involving a Tesla has occurred in the US and Canada before and safety authorities have been asked to investigate but each time it was ruled out as the cause.
A warning message for Tesla drivers
One of the earliest Tesla fires was in September 2014 when one of the cars caught fire following a car crash in southern California. On that occasion, a Nissan Leaf slammed into the side of a Tesla, and the car burst into flames. The NHTSA initially ruled out the Leaf as the cause, but it did ask Nissan to investigate the crash after the fire department reported that the Nissan Leaf had been driving across dry grass.
In the first 20 days of 2015, four more Teslas caught fire worldwide. NHTSA said at the time that another cause could be malfunctioning equipment, but that the problem was not caused by a “power supply-related failure”.
Another fire took place in July when a Tesla caught fire after crashing through a fence at an auto dealership in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Nissan linked the crash to a faulty vehicle sensor. The company returned the Model S to consumers.
In December of that year, NHTSA opened an investigation after a Tesla Model S caught fire while being tested at a Washington state facility. The safety board announced that the crash was caused by a “manufacturing defect” and that it would investigate “whether the vehicle design, procedure, or equipment meets federal standards”.
These initial reports have been consistent with some other fires involving Tesla Model S cars. A spokesman for NHTSA said that it had opened the investigation while waiting for details from the Tesla engineers involved in Saturday’s crash.
Despite this, NHTSA has not yet said whether it has formally opened an investigation into Tesla vehicles.
After the Seattle fire, Tesla launched a public service announcement (PSA) for Model S drivers reminding them that in the event of a crash they should avoid the area immediately and pull the car into a clear parking space where there is minimal exhaust gases entering the passenger compartment.