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Tesla Model S Catches Fire: Is This Tesla's 'Toyota' Moment?

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the electric-boogaloo dept.

Bug 388

cartechboy writes "A Tesla Model S was involved in an accident in Washington state on Tuesday, and the car's battery pack caught fire (with some of it caught on video). The cause of the accident is pretty clear, and Tesla issued a statement that the vehicle hit 'a large metallic object in the middle of the road.' Whether that collision immediately set off a fire in the Model S's battery pack isn't known, but a report from the Regional Fire Authority of Kent, Washington went into detail on the battery pack fire saying the car's lithium-ion battery was on fire when firefighters arrived, and spraying water on it had little effect. Firefighters switched to a dry chemical extinguisher and had to puncture numerous holes into the battery pack to extinguish it completely. Aside from the details of how the battery fire happened and was handled, the big question is what effect it will have on how people view Teslas in the near and middle-term. Is this Tesla's version of 2010's high profile Prius recall issue where pundits and critics took the opportunity to stir fears of the cars new technology?"

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Big Oil is Dancing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027041)

"That's TERRIBLE!" they laughed.

Re:Big Oil is Dancing (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 10 months ago | (#45027127)

I told you so!

Signed,
Edison

Re:Big Oil is Dancing (4, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#45027407)

Fuck oil and electricity. I want a *nuclear* powered engine. Now THAT will be an accident!

Re:Big Oil is Dancing (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#45027447)

And for the record, that was a joke. But I know this is /. and so, yes, I'm well aware that small nuclear reactors are actually pretty safe.

Re:Big Oil is Dancing (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#45027621)

Well, safe to use with enough shielding. Still very likely to create a super-fund site if one were involved in a 10 car pileup.

vs gasoline cars (5, Insightful)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about 10 months ago | (#45027049)

obviously gasoline cars never catch on fire

Re:vs gasoline cars (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45027177)

Big Astrology has covered this up; but it turns out that your safety is almost entirely determined by who was appointed as the director for your life story.

If it's a documentary type, the risk is nonzero; but quite modest. If it's a moody psychological thriller, you should avoid flashbacks but are utterly safe. If it's an action shlock-slinger, colliding with a pothole, shopping cart, or just about anything else at more than a few miles an hour will produce a massive fireball. Be sure to practice jumping improbably to safety. In this last case, the safest way to navigate the roads is actually to either be chasing or chased by armed criminals/terrorists/secret agents at all times. While cars not involved in high-speed chases routinely explode at the slightest stimulus, being involved in a high speed chase improves performance and fuel economy by at least 50%, provides an immunity to most bodywork damage(except bullet holes through inessential pieces of glass, be sure that your insurance covers windshield replacements), and makes explosions virtually impossible.

Re:vs gasoline cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027321)

obviously gasoline cars never catch on fire

Gasoline vehicles burn ALL the TIME. You see it in every movie you watch nowadays.

Re:vs gasoline cars (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45027451)

Gasoline vehicles burn ALL the TIME. You see it in every movie you watch nowadays.

And after they catch fire, they EXPLODE!

Re:vs gasoline cars (-1, Redundant)

HerculesMO (693085) | about 10 months ago | (#45027485)

No, they don't.

Re:vs gasoline cars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027561)

Whooooooooosh

Re:vs gasoline cars (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 10 months ago | (#45027465)

True, but how largely it's publicized It depends on if the domestic makes are in the middle of lobbying the government for a bailout at the moment because they are bankrupt, and if the burning car is a foreign marque.

Re:vs gasoline cars (4, Insightful)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 10 months ago | (#45027327)

Actually despite what hollywood would have you believe, modern cars are very good at not catching fire in a crash. As is the Tesla in most cases I'm sure. As more of them get out there, more unforeseen circumstances will occur but I'm assuming no one got hurt (else that would have been the headline) so its a great data point to make a safe car even safer. And Prius sales are doing just fine....

Re:vs gasoline cars (3, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 10 months ago | (#45027391)

Every ~2 minutes, a fire department somewhere in the US responds to another call of a vehicle fire.

Statistically, on a per-car basis, they are safe... but there are so many vehicles that vehicle fires are actually quite common.
=Smidge=

Re:vs gasoline cars (2)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | about 10 months ago | (#45027521)

Yes cars catch on fire, what your stat doesn't shed any light on is how many of those fires are caused by the fuel system. There are countless other ways to get a car to catch fire.

Re:vs gasoline cars (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#45027345)

Hopefully tesla will point that out, but the story here is public relations. The public is illogical. They can easily come to believe that Teslas are much less safe than the competition, even if that isn't really the case. Car companies and the oil industry obviously have an interest in spreading FUD to foster that effect, and would have absolutely no qualms about doing so. They've played dirty so far.

The name Tesla is fitting, since Nikolai Tesla faced a similar situation in life with Edison.

Re:vs gasoline cars (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027487)

Two can play the FUD game. The public might not consider that gasoline cars burn even worse when the gas tank is punctured by road "metal objects".

So Tesla should tell them directly. "Yes, one of our cars burned this year - and nobody was hurt. And in the same year, x thousand gasoline cars burned, with z number of fatalities . . ." They could make a commercial based on this.
 

Re:vs gasoline cars (1)

aol000xw (1615685) | about 10 months ago | (#45027347)

Never! Just check any movie, gasoline cars always explode, so just catching fire is a big improvement.

Re:vs gasoline cars (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 10 months ago | (#45027471)

Especially gasoline cars with fuel tanks in the nose of the car.

It looks like he ran over a fire hydrant which tore open the front battery pack.

Re:vs gasoline cars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027535)

I was going to post the same comment when I saw this before it was posted when I was at lunch (can't log in here). What struck me was TFS's "is this Tesla's Toyota moment?" More like a Ford moment, [wikipedia.org] or another Ford moment. [palmbeachpost.com] .

Unlike the Pintos and Crown Vics, where many cars burned and killed people, this was ONE incident and no one was injured.

Hell, my old Chevy caught fire [kuro5hin.org] ten years ago.

Re:vs gasoline cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027619)

Strangely, diesel doesn't burn though. It takes huge pressure to cause it to ignite, dropping a lit match in a tank of diesel will just put it out.

Hitting stuff @ speed with your car can damage it! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027065)

News at 11.

Gasoline burns too. I don't really see many people avoiding the purchase of gasoline-powered cars since, like FOREVER.

Re:Hitting stuff @ speed with your car can damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027495)

Some school districts have provisions in their transportation contracts which forbid gasoline powered buses. Diesel fumes may be toxic, but it's actually quite hard to make it burn. (Natural gas buses - when they were common - were oddly accepted sometimes and not others.)

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027069)

No

So? (5, Insightful)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 10 months ago | (#45027073)

Of course a gasoline-powered car has *never* caught on fire after a crash [/sarc]

No matter what mechanism we use for storing large amounts of energy in a small package, there is *always* the risk that it will be subject to an uncontrolled release if it suffers a physical insult.

Call me when a Tesla spontaneously explodes in flames... then it's time to get worried.

Re:So? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 10 months ago | (#45027201)

Yea, of course difference though seem to be while a Li-Ion pack may be a pain to put out, it won't be leaking a flammable chemical that can easily spread.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines (5, Insightful)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 10 months ago | (#45027075)

No. A single incident without a fatality is rarely a cause for such panic unless this is hyped by those opposed to electric cars.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027323)

Does the article mention whether the whole thing was staged by a disgruntled old-tech car dealer?

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 10 months ago | (#45027367)

No. A single incident without a fatality is rarely a cause for such panic unless this is hyped by those opposed to electric cars.

Good thing that never happens.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027437)

... by those opposed to electric cars

I do not oppose electric cars. I oppose:
* The government forcing me to use or buy an electric car over a gasoline powered model.
* The people claiming they are "green" when they are recharged using 60% coal power and also ignore all the toxic chemicals used to make the batteries.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#45027519)

Even using 100% coal it would be cleaner than a gasoline powered car. You don't have the same scrubbing equipment in your exhaust. Lithium is not toxic and it is easy to recycle.

Re:Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027531)

It is hyped by electric enthusiasts. "See - our cars have accidents too!" Electric is catching up with gas in every area now! The only thing missing is pollution!

I doubt its a major issue (1)

Sollord (888521) | about 10 months ago | (#45027093)

This is about the same as a large metal object ripping open your fuel tank and having the gasoline igniting save it's far more likely the fuel fire will consume the entire car quickly but on the reverse side it's probably easier to put out. The only real solution would be to not use lithium as a battery component which isn't possible at this time.

Re:I doubt its a major issue (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45027225)

This is about the same as a large metal object ripping open your fuel tank and having the gasoline igniting save it's far more likely the fuel fire will consume the entire car quickly but on the reverse side it's probably easier to put out. The only real solution would be to not use lithium as a battery component which isn't possible at this time.

It's a thing to note, in the sense that fire departments/first responder types need to behave differently around a light metal fire than they do around a hydrocarbon fire (this is one of the reasons why hazardous materials storage/reporting regulations have involved the local fire department for decades in many locations: if Warehouse B catches fire, will spraying it with water stop the fire, or cause the place to explode?); but we aren't talking markedly different overall amounts of stored energy here. Even if Teslas were magically impossible to extinguish, the 'stand at a safe distance and watch' strategy works.

Re:I doubt its a major issue (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45027419)

Firefighters get constant updates on all sorts of technologies. Two months ago, the monthly VFD meeting was all about LiOn batteries - from camcorders to cars. There was a slick video with all sorts of cool GoPro shots. Next month it's carbon composite airplanes like the 787. Those are supposed to be quite entertaining.

You will notice, in the brief FA video, the firefighter standing there and looking at the scene. They're not rushing around with hoses. It looks like they understand what they're dealing with and acting accordingly.

And some of us remember the magnesium transmission cases in Volkswagen bugs. Now, those were a PITA to extinguish. The world is full of all sorts of potentially dangerous things, emergency personnel get frequent instruction on how to safely deal with them.

Re:I doubt its a major issue (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 10 months ago | (#45027237)

Energy storage is always dangerous. This would have been far, far more dangerous with gasoline.

unexplained fires are a matter for the courts (3, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#45027095)

With an Canyonero

heh. (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45027099)

Tesla Model S Catches Fire: Is This Tesla's 'Toyota' Moment?

Only when you consider Toyota's slogan is "Driving excitement". I can think of nothing more exciting than OH GOD OH GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.

Re:heh. (1)

a_big_favor (2550262) | about 10 months ago | (#45027351)

Brakes are for squares

Re:heh. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 10 months ago | (#45027403)

Tesla Model S Catches Fire: Is This Tesla's 'Toyota' Moment?

Only when you consider Toyota's slogan is "Driving excitement". I can think of nothing more exciting than OH GOD OH GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.

That was pretty much the excitement of driving a Pontiac Firefly close to the speed limit. (Downhill with a tailwind...)

Water intensified the effect? Duh (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#45027101)

Of course water intensified the effect... it's an electrical fire!

Anyways... I didn't see anything in the article about it. Did the battery actually explode? If not, then there's an argument for increased safety over gasoline, isn't it?

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 10 months ago | (#45027217)

There is no reason to assume the battery exploded. In fact it would be very hard to make it do that while with gasoline that is relatively easy and the fire is going to spread fast to the while car. Here, the fire seems to be entirely restricted to the motor compartment, no flames in the passenger area at all.

Also, it is not an electrical fire, but a lithium fire. You cannot put those out, you just put sand on it and wait. Water is at worst going to cause a steam explosion. These firefighters do not know their job.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45027479)

Except that in TF video, they're just staring at the fire, not putting water on it. They have hoses out but they always do. Besides, there are things OTHER than lithium in the car.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 10 months ago | (#45027249)

Yeah, and there's lithium batteries. Lithium + Water = Big Explosions. The only useful information here is that fire crews need to be better trained to deal with electric cars.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#45027449)

I'm just surprised they would have used water at all... it would have been just as problematic with gasoline, since water can't put out a gas fire either.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#45027543)

Incorrect, unless you powder the lithium. Otherwise you just make a slightly bigger fire. If you use enough water you can actually put out lithium by cooling it so much. Remember the fire triangle.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 10 months ago | (#45027257)

Since they had to poke holes in the pack to enable them to get the retardant into it; it sounds like it was intact, and was just burning; which you would think a professional Fire Dept would know not to mix Li-Ion battery fires and water.

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027445)

Since they had to poke holes in the pack to enable them to get the retardant into it; it sounds like it was intact, and was just burning; which you would think a professional Fire Dept would know not to mix Li-Ion battery fires and water.

To be fair, it's not like cars usually carry large Li-Ion batteries. Needing to handle electric cars differently from a "regular" car in event of an engine fire while obvious in hindsight is probably not something I'd have thought of on-sight (absent specialized training).

Re:Water intensified the effect? Duh (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45027261)

In a battery-powered situation, I suspect the fact that it's a lithium fire was more relevant. Neither electrical nor light metal fires are a good idea to fight with water; but the efficiency of the battery pack probably didn't improve as it burned, so the fire became increasingly non-electrical and just moved on to burning through all that zesty lithium.

My car will never catch fire (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027113)

I am going to stick with my gasoline fuelled car. It will never catch fire

More like GM's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027115)

The company that put a price on per unit of death costs for saving a few bucks by pushing the fuel tank further back against engineers' advice.

Fear Mongering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027143)

Tesla BAD! Gas cars that can also catch fire GOOD!

Just gonna make it worse (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027145)

"spraying water on it"
"puncture numerous holes into the battery pack"

I'm guessing these guys don't even know what a battery is.

Re:Just gonna make it worse (5, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45027297)

Tesla's battery packs are large multiple-battery units, with a crunchy plastic shell. If the fire is on the wiring in the shell, the proper way to extinguish it is to puncture the shell and apply a chemical extinguisher. That seems to be exactly what they did.

As with gas cars, this was bound to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027159)

There were *194,000* highway vehicle fires between 2008 and 2010. That's over 150 a day. Source [fema.gov]

Tesla has thousands of vehicles on the road, some operating since 2008. Like every other gas car on the road, its fuel is flammable.

No matter what precautions or design approaches a manufacturer uses short of windpower, highway fires will happen with any car. Five years in, Tesla has had a single fire, it did not spread rapidly, and the driver was unharmed. Unless this becomes a trend, there's nothing to see here.

The hazards of driving in Kent (1)

themushroom (197365) | about 10 months ago | (#45027165)

Not only is there a lot of rain, it's Kent. Coulda been Bellevue, where people in Bentleys would drive by snickering.

No. (5, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | about 10 months ago | (#45027167)

Tesla has been very brilliant thus far in their product strategy.

They have made expensive, high end products that are tailored to affluent enthusiasts. They have been working their way down from "least practical" to "most practical".

Enthusiasts and early adopters are much more willing to put up with teething problems in new technologies.

These are not disposable cars that you will see filled with McDonalds wrappers.

So the typical tesla customer isn't stupid white trash looking to cash in on a lawsuit with the help of an ambulance chasing lawyer (yet).

Furthermore, consider the competition: If you believe the party line, A Mercedes Benz can randomly eject its drivetrain and burn itself to a crisp, killing the occupants.

Everyone (including the test data and real-world data) agrees that MB makes exceptionally survivable vehicles. So freak things may happen.

What we saw in this case was that the Tesla hit something, nobody was hurt, the vehicle didn't lose control, and after the driver safely stopped and exited the car, the firefighters had to deal with a slightly new type of fire situation then they are used to.

Re:No. (2)

WheezyJoe (1168567) | about 10 months ago | (#45027375)

Furthermore, consider the competition: If you believe the party line, A Mercedes Benz can randomly eject its drivetrain and burn itself to a crisp, killing the occupants.

Good to know the drivetrain is safe. I mean, if you're gonna have an accident, eject the most valuable parts, right?
And who says it was random? Occupants efficiently terminated. Drivetrain available for re-use.

Not randomly eject (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 10 months ago | (#45027623)

The accident you are mentioning was most likely caused by the car bottoming out on the intersection just before it drove over a fire hydrant (skid marks and hydrant evident on pictures), lost it's drive line because that hooked on said hydrant and then ended frontally into a big tree (or was it a lamp post?) at an impact speed of over 60 mph. I

well... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 10 months ago | (#45027183)

Most Pontiac Fieros caught fire on the SIDE of the road without an accidents.

Vehicles catch on fire! Wow!

But Tesla is just like everyone else in the auto industry, and if there is something to make safer they should do it.

Looks much less dangerous than a gasoline fire (4, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 10 months ago | (#45027185)

This is restricted to the motor area. A gasoline fire engulfs the whole car and can kill everybody pretty fast. Looks like there would be plenty of time to get people out safely from a Tesla in comparison.

Face it: There is no really safe way of energy storage. But a well-made lithium battery is orders of magnitude more desirable than highly volatile and very toxic gasoline.

Re:Looks much less dangerous than a gasoline fire (3, Funny)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 10 months ago | (#45027259)

And way way less dangerous than those atomic cars in Fallout 3.

Re:Looks much less dangerous than a gasoline fire (1)

Videospike (2897665) | about 10 months ago | (#45027603)

However, the explosion is much more satisfying.

Re:Looks much less dangerous than a gasoline fire (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 10 months ago | (#45027513)

Unless it's a "Boeing" moment 30k feet over the Atlantic. Still, I agree it's probably safer than liquid fuel.

Re:Looks much less dangerous than a gasoline fire (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#45027607)

Motor area?
That is the frunk. The front trunk. There are no lithium batteries there. Only a nice normal lead acid battery. The tires are what caused all that smoke.

Does Musk has egg on his face now? (-1, Flamebait)

stevew (4845) | about 10 months ago | (#45027187)

Seems to me that Elon Musk may have some egg on his face since he so boldly offered to help out Boeing redesign their battery system on the 787 not to long ago. It seems that Tesla's Li-ion batteries are just as likely to catch on fire! Now - admittedly it took a head-on collision to do that while the Boeing aircraft was just sitting there, but it seems that the Tesla has the same Achilles heal!

No he does not (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#45027387)

Seems to me that Elon Musk may have some egg on his face since he so boldly offered to help out Boeing redesign their battery system on the 787 not to long ago

There is a huge difference between catching fire due to (apparently) catastrophic damage from flying debris and catching fire due under expected use conditions. So the answer is no, he does not have any egg on his face.

It seems that Tesla's Li-ion batteries are just as likely to catch on fire!

Any Li-ion battery can become flammable under the right conditions.

No omlette here (1)

themushroom (197365) | about 10 months ago | (#45027397)

I don't recall Lee Iacocca or Henry Ford ever taking the blame for a traffic accident a flaw in the car wasn't responsible for.

Re:Does Musk has egg on his face now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027423)

Way to go! The story went completely over your head. "Just as likely" apparently means to you that spontaneous combustion is the same thing as collision damage.

Re:Does Musk has egg on his face now? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027489)

admittedly it took a head-on collision to do that while the Boeing aircraft was just sitting there, but it seems that the Tesla has the same Achilles heal!

Heel. And, no.

Look, I dislike Elon Musk more than the next guy (this is Slashdot, so the next guy is probably a fanboi sycophant), but yeah, no. Metal debris impacting an absurdly powerful battery is not the same as, "plane caught on fire again for no reason, cap'n, lol".

Re:Does Musk has egg on his face now? (5, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | about 10 months ago | (#45027551)

Boeing 787: Multiple fires out of 83 deployed vehicles. All fires happened without collision, one happened while vehicle was parked.
Tesla Model S: One fire out of ~14,000 deployed vehicles. The fire happened due to a collision.

Yeah, I think Tesla's doing pretty well relative to Boeing here...

Li-Ion Batteries are FLAMMABLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027191)

Long story short [fmglobal.com] (large PDF) it's actually the plastic around the batteries that need fire protection, because once the battery starts burning you're screwed.

Thoughts and Insights... (4, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about 10 months ago | (#45027203)

First, this was a direct puncture by a piece of large metal debris. Not a design failure. The metal object likely caused a short and the resultant fire.

Second, from a number of articles and reports, Tesla's safety designs worked as planned. Numerous articles noted that the fire was contained in the front section of the vehicle where the impact occurred, and did not shift into the passenger compartment. This = GOOD!!!!

The firefighters pouring of water on a chemical fire likely exasperated the situation.

What Tesla should lean from this...

a) evaluate design to see if the front underguard can be further strengthened for greater resistance to impact and puncture with minimal affect on price and performance.

b) recognize the benefit of better trained fire departments, sell off some those stocks to found a non-profit with an endowment to help train nationally all fire departments in the handling of electric drive vehicle systems. Namely to utilize chemical extinguishers rather than water.

c) perhaps evaluate whether a small extinguishing system could be incorporated into the design. (BONUS POINTS)

a)

Careful (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 10 months ago | (#45027299)

c) perhaps evaluate whether a small extinguishing system could be incorporated into the design. (BONUS POINTS)

Have to be careful with things like that. It would be VERY easy for competitors to spin that as "Tesla's are so dangerous they need a fire extinguishing system". Stupid argument under the light of day but stupid people and lawmakers (but I repeat myself) are influenced by stupid arguments.

Re:Careful (5, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#45027405)

Or Tesla spins it as "We're incorporating a built-in fire-suppression system, the same as all race cars have had for the last 20 years or so. Why our competitors haven't done so by now,... you'll have to ask them, they're the ones who've been fielding the racing teams using this technology.".

Re:Thoughts and Insights... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027511)

The firefighters pouring of water on a chemical fire likely exasperated the situation.

I thought this as well, then I did research. Water is the appropriate thing to use in situations like this.

Makes no freaking sense at all if you ask me (Hello? Water? Battery? Electricity?!) but apparently the goal should be less "Put it out immediately!" and more "Stop heat from causing chain reaction of other cells."

Re:Thoughts and Insights... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027523)

The firefighters pouring of water on a chemical fire likely exasperated the situation.

The word you want is "exacerbated" [thefreedictionary.com] , not "exasperated".

I don't try to correct every mistake--that would be exasperating--but I couldn't let that one pass.

Caught on video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027215)

Tesla Model S = See Dolt Slam

Tesla Model S is a safe car (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027243)

At least according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who just this last August gave it a 5-star (highest) crash test rating.

sure glad lithium batteries not in airplanes (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 10 months ago | (#45027267)

They might catch on fire too.

A large metallic object (1, Funny)

jpvlsmv (583001) | about 10 months ago | (#45027271)

There are lots of large metallic objects in the middle of the road. They're called CARS!

This Tesla's on fire with passionate love (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027273)

I drove down the freeway and I hit bump
But it only burns the stuff in the trunk

I spent 90 grand to look really cool
now all I have left is a bubbling pool

Thought I'd get laid with my gull wing doors
now all its good for is roastin some smores

My biggest worry was finding charging stations
Now all I can think of is self immolation

Never payin for gas yeah it sounded real nice
turns out all I got was an incendiary device

I can hear them now making their jokes
Turns out the model S really stands for smoke....

 

Alarmist Horseshit (1)

ks*nut (985334) | about 10 months ago | (#45027275)

Yes, Tesla stock dropped after this story came out. And millions of people are happily driving the Prius and will be driving the Tesla. And the news industry (is it really journalism?) will find another story with more victims and gorier details.

Re:Alarmist Horseshit (1)

themushroom (197365) | about 10 months ago | (#45027427)

If the theory was linear, there'd be no auto stock market at all, would there?

Of course not. (5, Insightful)

rainwalker (174354) | about 10 months ago | (#45027289)

The driver hit something in the road; the vehicle detected the damage, realized it was going to catch on fire, and politely asked the driver to pull over and exit the vehicle. Once the driver had exited, the battery compartment started merrily burning, but the design kept the fire contained within the front compartment. At no point did the fire enter the passenger compartment, which would have been perfectly safe for the driver. Frankly, I can only dream of owning such a safe vehicle.

Headline Question Rule (1)

LaminatorX (410794) | about 10 months ago | (#45027313)

As usual, the answer to the question posed in the headline is, "No."

If this turns out to happen every time they take a bang, it may be their "Pinto Moment." That doesn't seem to happening though.

Future battery tech (0)

Tailhook (98486) | about 10 months ago | (#45027337)

At some point in the (hopefully) near future, better batteries with several times the energy content of Lithium-Ion will be commonplace. Then, one day, one of those batteries is going to spontaneously burst into a white hot fire inside an integral garage right underneath the four kids living upstairs.

They will burn to death and the world will know it. Downplaying things like this Tesla incident today will not work. It does not matter that gasoline powered cars burn people to death every day.

The argument must be that these things are not without risk, fires will happen, people will get killed in them and that this is the price of mobility.

Keep that in mind when your training has you outraged when someone uses exactly the same argument to rationalize something you oppose. Nuclear power, for example.

What? How Big? How Fast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027339)

Please let me know when we know more.

A summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027493)

Q: What?
A: A problem!! With a new technology!!! That's really expensive!!!!! And that prominent hippie pinko environmentalists like!!!!!!!

Q: How Big?
A: Big. More energy than burning a complete hardbound printing of the US federal tax code!

Q: How Fast?
A: Very fast, in fact TSLA shares dropped 7% over the course of a day. That's almost half of the speed of the great 1929 stock market crash!

Water and fire don't mix? (0)

neonfrog (442362) | about 10 months ago | (#45027359)

"The application of water seemed to intensify the fire activity...then applied dry chemical extinguisher.."

and later

"...had to puncture multiple holes into the pack to apply water to the burning material in the battery."

That seems like a questionable decision unless all they had left was water. Did I read the timeline wrong?

Train idiots how to hold their phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027435)

We need to give remedial training to the idiot video photographer holding his phone vertical while filming the burning Tesla. Yeah, I know he got the image, but it is a pet peeve of mine to hold the thing properly horizontally while shooting video or pictures.

Meta-Pundits (4, Funny)

Jahava (946858) | about 10 months ago | (#45027439)

Is this Tesla's version of 2010's high profile Prius recall issue where pundits and critics took the opportunity to stir fears of the cars new technology?

One thing is clear: Meta-pundits will use this opportunity to stir fears about what pundits will do.

Seriously? (1)

Awtechit! (3376153) | about 10 months ago | (#45027475)

this is news? this falls right up there with what color the Ipod will be next. a millionaires' toy car hits a "large metallic object" and damage occurs? Really? come on. anyone thinking of buying one won't give a ...t, and the rest of us wouldn't be buying one if it had rolled over the object without a scratch.

And By Extension (2)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 10 months ago | (#45027527)

I completely agree with the other posters, gasoline cars never catch fire and burn their occupants to death. I'm shocked, shocked that an electric car would burn. Obviously it's a death trap.

By extension, I'm also horrified by those who suggest we revive zeppelins to manage flight. Don't they know hydrogen burns? Also, jumbo jets never burn. Aviation fuel, I've read, is safe to drink and could never harm anyone. 13 people died awful agonizing deaths on the Hindenburg. Think of the humanity! What's that? 137 people died in a PanAm crash... *yawn* what's on Must-See TV tonight?

End of the electric vehicle (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 10 months ago | (#45027533)

Clearly, having a single instance of an electric vehicle catching fire after an accident is proof that the whole idea of electric vehicles is faulty.

Because cars with internal combustion engines have never, ever caught fire.

Battery pack not under passenger compartment? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 10 months ago | (#45027541)

Looks to me like the fire is contained to the "engine" compartment AND the driver/passengers were able to get out without being engulfed in flames. That's pretty damn good engineering. Also consider Toyota Prius batteries appear to be under the passenger [youtube.com] compartment.

Safety Concern (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45027575)

The real safety concern here is the moron shooting video over his shoulder while DRIVING a pickup truck.

So what? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about 10 months ago | (#45027609)

Cars catch on fire after accidents all the time. Cars (Electric or Gas) are hauling around a lot of stored energy, and an accident can cause that energy to be released in a rather sudden and violent way (fire). Until there is some more info on this fire (and what caused it), I don't see what the big fuss is.
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