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Musk Lashes Back Over Tesla Fire Controversy

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the novelty-draws-detractors dept.

Transportation 487

Nerval's Lobster writes "A small handful of Tesla electric cars have caught fire, driving down the company's stock price, and finally prompting CEO Elon Musk to tackle the issue in a new blog posting. 'Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data),' he wrote in that posting. 'However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined.' Responsible journalism on the matter, he added, has been 'drowned out' by 'an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false.' According to his own figures, Tesla suffers an average of one fire per 6,333 cars, versus a rate of one fire per 1,350 gasoline-powered cars. Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting. 'Despite multiple high-speed accidents, there have been no deaths or serious injuries in a Model S of any kind ever,' Musk continued. 'Of course, at some point, the law of large numbers dictates that this, too, will change, but the record is long enough already for us to be extremely proud of this achievement.' Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds. In theory, that could reduce the chances of impact damage to the underbody, should the vehicle roll over an object — and that, in turn, could lower the chances of fire."

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487 comments

How about NEW cars? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464219)

250K gasoline car fires, yes, but how many of those cars were 12 months old???

Re:How about NEW cars? (5, Insightful)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about 4 months ago | (#45464275)

How many ran over heavy, jagged pieces of metal at highway speeds?

Re:How about NEW cars? (5, Funny)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45464645)

On the bright side...every Tesla that burns is one more whose battery lasted the entire vehicle life without need for replacement.

Re:How about NEW cars? (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 4 months ago | (#45464283)

Re:How about NEW cars? (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#45464381)

All kinds of cars catch fire.

To be fair, those were Fiskers which had acquired a reputation for catching fire if you look ta them wrong.

And no matter what they claim - it was a short in the 12 volt system that caused the fire. Something every car has, even the Tesla (it's used to run all the traditional 12V accessories in a car - ventilation, windows, lights, etc).

Re:How about NEW cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464311)

Doesn't matter HOW new a car is, gasoline burns the same.

Re:How about NEW cars? (0, Troll)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 4 months ago | (#45464555)

Yes.... but typically a Tesla has no gasoline on board. You'd think that a lack of chance of fire would be a Tesla selling point.

I'm not sure about Musk's statement that the fies "only occurred after very high-speed collisions". Doing 70 on the freeway and running over some debris [teslamotors.com] is neither high speed, nor a collision.

Re:How about NEW cars? (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 months ago | (#45464661)

Yes, it is. It's not like it was a hubcap, and you've got a strange definition of "high-speed" - this is miles per hour, not kilometers per hour.

Re:How about NEW cars? (3, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#45464753)

Yes.... but typically a Tesla has no gasoline on board. You'd think that a lack of chance of fire would be a Tesla selling point.

Accelerating a car takes energy. That energy has to be stored on board the car. Whenever you store a lot of energy in a small space, there is a risk that the energy could be released. Gasoline is not uniquely dangerous in that respect.

Doing 70 on the freeway and running over some debris is neither high speed, nor a collision.

70 miles per hour is high speed. The car collided with the debris.

Re:How about NEW cars? (1)

paiute (550198) | about 4 months ago | (#45464809)

running over some debris is neither high speed, nor a collision.

If the Concorde had been electric, all those people would still be alive.

Re:How about NEW cars? (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#45464693)

Doesn't matter HOW new a car is, gasoline burns the same.

While the fuel will burn the same, the amount of time and mileage before a fire occurs is important. If 90% of models are end-of-lifed and junked out before there's a statistically significant chance of fire in that model, then it's much less of a problem than if it's new cars that are catching on fire, because not only is there a probability of an older, rarer-in-service model having a fire, but there's now a problem of new models, of which there are many more in service, catching fire.

Most of the car fires that I've seen have involved carbureted vehicles, which are older, possess a greater quantity of fuel up in the engine bay (in the fuel bowls), and have moving parts that have an opportunity go gum up and stick (the floats and the needles-and-seats). While fuel pressures are low, the rubber lines, fuel pump diaphragms, and carburetor gaskets are all places that are close to significant amounts of electricity and thus are fairly likely to spark off if a leak occurs.

I don't want to comment on the abortion that is TBI, but most post-fire EFI vehicles that I've seen have had passenger compartment fires, not engine/drivetrain/fuelsystem fires. Certainly there are burned-up EFI vehicles, but again, it should not happen to new vehicles.

Re:How about NEW cars? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464347)

How many high-speed collisions resulting in a ruptured gas tank end in fire, regardless of the age of the car? Gasoline has a much higher energy density than, say, a current-day lithium-ion battery pack, so it's pretty silly to even /pretend/ that gas-powered cars have the upper hand here.

Re:How about NEW cars? (4, Interesting)

Shark (78448) | about 4 months ago | (#45464413)

I have no special love for Tesla or Musk but I think I have to agree with him there. Looking at the facts, these fires are not a very big deal, especially given the age of the (mainstream) electric car market. Sure, efforts should be made to aleviate the issue but obviously, if an accident punctures a battery there's a chance of fire just as there is one if you puncture a gas tank.

Re:How about NEW cars? (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 months ago | (#45464679)

It is just statistics. More Tesla cars on the roads, the higher the chance of one of them getting hit. This is just me, but I'm still pretty impressed by their crash record.

The one thing I'm really curious about is how many Priuses catch fire in wrecks. Priuses tend to be the mainstream vehicle, in terms of popularity, with an EV subsystem, so they should be the standard of how much damage causes a fire or not.

Re:How about NEW cars? (2)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#45464735)

...but obviously, if an accident punctures a battery there's a chance of fire just as there is one if you puncture a gas tank.

How likely is one to puncture the gas tank though, and how much risk of fire is there if the gas tank is ruptured, compared to if a battery is ruptured?

Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of electric vehicles and have mulled doing a conversion on my quarter-ton pickup, but I don't like the idea of high-centering on a foreign object causing a fire.

Re:How about NEW cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464783)

how much risk of fire is there if the gas tank is ruptured, compared to if a battery is ruptured?

Battery Ruptured, 100% chance of fire.
Gas tank ruptured less than 100% change of fire.

Re:How about NEW cars? (2, Interesting)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45464691)

Curious....Here's a question I don't think we've asked yet. What percentage of car fires are intentional? I know for a fact it happens as an insurance recovery scheme, but have no clue as to how often.

first commenter gets a free Tesla? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464245)

... because they need better testing, clearly.

Re:first commenter gets a free Tesla? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 months ago | (#45464285)

If you mean that clearly you haven't read the summary of this or any of the other Tesla stories, then yes it's clear.

People are bad (4, Insightful)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | about 4 months ago | (#45464247)

People are really bad at understanding statistics.

The masses will believe that electric cars are dangerously subject to spontaneous burning as a result of this press coverage, despite the extraordinarily solid safety record of the Tesla cars.

This is (to me) substantially similar to those people who frequently call violent crime a "growing problem" and probably comes from the same lazy, sensationalist reporters.

Re:People are bad (5, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 months ago | (#45464301)

Violent crime is a growing problem.

The perpetrators often have had problems growing to maturity as members of civilized society.

Re:People are bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464459)

The victims often have even more problems growing to maturity.

Re:People are bad (1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#45464517)

Wrong. Violent crimes has been decreasing for decades.
Stop yammering on with the fear the media shoves down your throat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:People are bad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464565)

Every single night I see murders and stabbings on TV news, and you are citing WIKIPEDIA to "prove" otherwise? You sound like a fucking retarded gun control advocate trying to convince me to give up my primary source of personal protection.

Re:People are bad (4, Insightful)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about 4 months ago | (#45464755)

Every single night I see murders and stabbings on TV news, and you are citing WIKIPEDIA to "prove" otherwise? You sound like a fucking retarded gun control advocate trying to convince me to give up my primary source of personal protection.

And you've just proved you fall for the sensationalist media like Musk is talking about.

You probably didn't even look at the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page where it clearly states the numbers are pulled from FBI and BJS reports, both government sources that you can go for primary data if you think Wikipedia is fudging the numbers. You also didn't look at the graphs in the articles, nor the data sources behind the graphs, as there is a clear downward trend in most violent crimes. Wikipedia may be untrustworthy, but there are citations and those can be verified.

Re:People are bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464571)

Does "whoooooooosh" also apply to a missed play on words?

Re:People are bad (3, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#45464695)

We need a karma-neutral "whoosh" modifier for when the responder to a joke is about 5 steps behind on the discussion thread....

Re:People are bad (4, Informative)

janeuner (815461) | about 4 months ago | (#45464323)

Also people don't seek principle sources. An account from the owner of the third Tesla fire incident.

http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-owner-tennessee [teslamotors.com] (I think this was on slashdot a couple weeks ago...)

"This experience does not in any way make me think that the Tesla Model S is an unsafe car. I would buy another one in a heartbeat."

I expect that the current NHTSA probe is going to end up a huge win for Tesla and Musk.

Re:People are bad (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 4 months ago | (#45464551)

Based on that account, the change Tesla SHOULD be making is to be MUCH firmer about the warnings in the case of battery damage. The fire was not in any way sudden - the car was bitching at the driver for *5 minutes* before he pulled over, calmly collected his belongings, and walked away...

(Although, without possibly some extra integrity checking circuitry such as a wire mesh through the battery case, it might not be easy to distinguish battery puncture from other failure modes.)

Re:People are bad (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 months ago | (#45464819)

I believe they have thermal sensors in there - perhaps more than just "BATTERY HOT" could be in order - maybe some thermistors designed to register fire temperatures, and something to make the detection of such a bit more obvious. Example, in an A-10 aircraft those fire extinguisher handles [digitalcom...ulator.com] along the top light up like Christmas trees. Airliners have similar features as well [youtube.com] - why not a car?

Re:People are bad (5, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | about 4 months ago | (#45464377)

People are really bad at understanding statistics because the Mainstream Media purposely skews reporting to maintain current power structures. If the media did a halfway accurate job of reporting how well the Teslas perform compared to traditional cars, you would have a ton of lawmakers, lobbyists, power brokers, and other old-money individuals all 'making phone calls' to get those involved removed. Real journalism has died. Instead, we have 'mainstream journalism' and 'fringe journalism.' The truth is found more often in fringe journalism.

It's just like watching an NFL game on TV and trying to figure out who the announcers are rooting for.. Guess what? They're rooting for a close game and whatever team has the momentum. If Tesla gains enough 'momentum' and mainstream acceptance (industry is large enough to gain its own power brokers), you will start seeing sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

Re:People are bad (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#45464597)

If Tesla gains enough 'momentum' and mainstream acceptance (industry is large enough to gain its own power brokers), you will start seeing sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

I hate to ruin a beautiful theory with facts, but we've already seen plenty of sensational articles about how great the Tesla is.

Re: People are bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464431)

As others on other news sites have pointed out, Elton's statistics are really bad. Car fires tend to happen in about 1% of auto accidents, while in the Tesla Model S, it has happened in 3/20.

For investors trying to bank on the Tesla stock bubble, this is a very real concern given what happened to Fisker over battery fires.

Re: People are bad (4, Interesting)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 months ago | (#45464451)

As others on other news sites have pointed out, Elton's statistics are really bad. Car fires tend to happen in about 1% of auto accidents, while in the Tesla Model S, it has happened in 3/20.

For investors trying to bank on the Tesla stock bubble, this is a very real concern given what happened to Fisker over battery fires.

Re: People are bad (1)

jasenj1 (575309) | about 4 months ago | (#45464653)

That's an interesting statistic.

If you get in an accident in a gas powered car the likelihood of it catching fire (and presumably doing extensive damage to the vehicle) is low. But in the Tesla the chances of your car burning up are much higher?

But that assumes the amount of damage caused by a fire is catastrophic. Now we need stats on how much damage is done by fires to know how bad catching fire really is.

- Jasen.

Re: People are bad (1)

Splab (574204) | about 4 months ago | (#45464717)

Also, you need to adjust for speed of collision. Since there are a lot more gasoline powered cars on the road, chances are they are way more represented in low speed accidents, which most likely has lower chance of causing fire.

Re:People are bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464489)

The media is in the business of manipulating facts.

Re:People are bad (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 4 months ago | (#45464521)

People are really bad at understanding statistics.

You give them too much credit. A good portion of the population _chooses_ ignorance over logical and rational conclusions. The only explanation is that when it comes to educating oneself, many people say it's "too hard" which basically equates to "I don't f#cking feel like it". (other factors, such as blind fundamentalism, is another matter)

Re:People are bad (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 4 months ago | (#45464639)

You don't understand the stats either.

Musk is comparing a population of new, low milage , well maintained cars driven short distances by caring owners to the general population of cars including 10 year old 80,000 mile rustbuckets driven by teens who haven't had it serviced in years.

If you are not comparing like for like, you cannot draw any sort of reliable conclusion from your stats

Re:People are bad (1)

Blake1024 (846727) | about 4 months ago | (#45464643)

Remember, the news services are not in the business of providing news. They are in the business of making a profit. They make money by getting people to read their advertisements. They print what further's that cause. (A disclaimer: I am a rabid capitalist. I am not complaining about this situation. It could not be different. I am merely pointing it out.)

Re:People are bad (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 months ago | (#45464727)

This is (to me) substantially similar to those people who frequently call violent crime a "growing problem" and probably comes from the same lazy, sensationalist reporters.

That's actually a matter of reporters reusing stories and bits of stories completely unchanged from the 80's, when it was a growing problem. Thirty years of writing the same story over and over again. That's a whole different level of lazy.

so make it higher everytime, already (1)

invalid-access (1478529) | about 4 months ago | (#45464271)

"Highway speeds" is when you'd most want a low center-of-mass in terms of improving driving quality. If you're going to increase it for highway speeds, maybe just make it higher, always.

Re: so make it higher everytime, already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464355)

Correct, it is already higher at slow speeds. They're just turning off the energy savings optimization on the freeway, until January when it will be a choice. It's clear that this is just to combat sensationalism unfortunately.

Learn and Improve (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#45464277)

I am sure Tesla will continue to find ways to improve their design in areas of safety and others, as you would expect from any newer technology. Of course, media attention forces the irony of making design changes while claiming there are no issues of concern. I feel for him, its a no win situation. He should be more up-front though, as we have already discussed at length the misuse of the statistical comparison.

Re:Learn and Improve (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464425)

Or they can do what Ford did with Pinto gas tank defects which is cover it up, deny, deny, and deny, then agree to settle with certain victims because it was cheaper to settle with the families of the deceased than fix the problem, then finally after the body count piled up too high agree to recall all the cars. It appears Telsa is following the Ford Pinto strategy

Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464281)

1 out of ever 1350 gasoline cars last year caught on fire? How old were those cars? Maintenance records?

I'm not saying he's a liar but I think there is more to this tale than these two statistics show. He could very well be right but given the high marks that this yearâ(TM)s Tesla has in the crash ratings versus some 1988 Yugo going up in flames in a collision makes a world of difference.

get real, people (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#45464313)

If Elon Musk and KAOS really wanted you DEAD , do you really think they're going to piddle around with setting your overpriced %1'er golfcart on fire?!!

Re:get real, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464553)

What's a percent-oner?

Fraudulent employment numbers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464339)

Your Mocha Messiah fakes unemployment numbers to get his ass re-elected.

Can't even build a functioning web sight that has the pathetic goal of working 80% of the time.

But you fuckwads want to turn over control for all of our healthcare to these rocket-fucking-scientists.

How about fuck you all up the ass sideways with a penguin statue.

Huh?

Fucking socialists.

Re:Fraudulent employment numbers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464465)

-1 score?

Cmon you cowardly pinko commie fascists, you support Choom-boy Dog-eater and socialized medicine like it was going to get you all laid.

Defend your statist power grab like real men.

Fucking pussies.

Re:Fraudulent employment numbers (0)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#45464567)

Defend your statist power grab like real men.

Coming from someone who posts anonymously and very off topic? You're getting the "defense" you deserve.

Re:Fraudulent employment numbers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464715)

You fuckface lying commie assholes do not put up threads on the topic of supporting Obamacare because your are pussies and know there is no real thinking person who can defend it. If you did I would post there.

Fuck you, I post off topic. Stand up like a real man and defend dog eaters socialist plan to take over the economy! You supported it, not not every single slashdot poster of course, but by far the vast majority of you jerks are socialist asshole thieves.

Obamacare is a complete and total disaster and it's only fucking getting started! People will die because of this law - and your support of the chocolate jesus. Families will be bankrupted, lose their homes, all in the name of socialist utopia.

How many have to die in the name of collectivism before you admit your collosal ignorance and stupidity?

HOW MANY MORE!

You are thieves and common whoring pathetic ones at that. You cannot even stand up and commit the act yourselves, you must elect agents to do so for you.

Fuck you fuckity fuck fuck fucks.

Re:Fraudulent employment numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464837)

DEFEND THIS YOU LYING SCUMBAG

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/woman-hailed-president-obamacare-success-story-now-cant-afford-obamacare_767868.html

"...Jessica Sanford started having problems, she was receiving letters from the Washington state health exchange," reports CNN. "The first letter telling her that tax credit was reduced, therefore, increasing the cost of her health care plan and the, take a look at this, then she received a letter just last week telling her that her tax credit had been taken away all together. Show you another document here, showing what the tax credit worked out to be... zero dollars according to this document that was provided to us by Jessica Sanford. She describes all of this as a roller coaster ride. Now she says she can't afford insurance in Washington state because of the new developments."

DEFEND YOUR TYRANNY

Re:Fraudulent employment numbers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464641)

Defend your statist power grab like real men.

Welcome to the new America, 1980-2013.

Nice move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464343)

Third, to reinforce how strongly we feel about the low risk of fire in our cars, we will be amending our warranty policy to cover damage due to a fire, even if due to driver error.

Now that's putting your money where your mouth is.

glove compartment? (4, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 4 months ago | (#45464349)

tfs:

Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting

so, in case of a fire we should crawl into the glove box?

Re:glove compartment? (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 4 months ago | (#45464583)

tfs:

Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting

so, in case of a fire we should crawl into the glove box?

No but you can avoid the extra tickets when the police ask for your registration and proof of insurance.

"Yes officer, they are right there in that glowing red box. Please feel free to search the car while you're in there"

Re:glove compartment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464647)

â" enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting

so, in case of a fire we should crawl into the glove box?

It's HUGE, I'm telling you, huge.

(Like yo mamma, detroit)

Re:glove compartment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464663)

Considering that cellulose ignites at about 451deg glove box does not seem to be such a safe place to hid unless you're (rotisserie) chicken.

Dirty Laundry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464361)

I make my living off the Evening News
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

THIS IS BP HERE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464373)

Ha-ha !! And sorry about all the plant explosions Texas and sorry about all those oil spills Gulf and sorry for what I do next !!

One big difference (-1, Flamebait)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 4 months ago | (#45464417)

How many cars are on the road compared to how many Teslas?

If you have tens of millions of cars and trucks (pickup trucks) on the U.S. roads, you are bound to have many fires for various reasons.

When you only have a few thousand of a specific car on the road and several catch fire, you need to ask questions and investigate.

Re:One big difference (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464439)

*facepalm*

Re:One big difference (1)

reebmmm (939463) | about 4 months ago | (#45464493)

The per capita statistic is right in the summary:

Tesla suffers an average of one fire per 6,333 cars, versus a rate of one fire per 1,350 gasoline-powered cars.

Re:One big difference (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 4 months ago | (#45464503)

Let's not forget age. Many of the cars that burned were probably much older than any Tesla on the road. We'll see how Teslas built in 2011 do in 2025.

Financial media (5, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 4 months ago | (#45464445)

Now there's an institution that doesn't get enough scrutiny, especially the financial news channels. Bloomberg and their ilk aren't so far removed from Fox and Sky (or CNN) in terms of the actual product they deliver, which is sensationalist tripe, delivered by eye candy.

What passes for journalism today is often little more than a series "factoids" carefully chosen to fit a particular narrative - pro bono omnium hominum.

Re:Financial media (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464703)

Exactly what about gay lifestyle do you object?

Re:Financial media (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464719)

What they're pushing is an ideological agenda, and every word they publish is filtered and arranged to support that agenda.

not a straight comparison. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464457)

His statistics aren't exactly apples and apples due to the different years and makes of gasoline vehicles on the road. A fairer metric would be number fires from model 2010 or greater gasoline sedans that caused serious injury or death. Which is a much tougher statistic to find, but may not be as dramatic to make his point.

Re:not a straight comparison. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464593)

I here this cry a lot, but it's just an attempt to push a particular narrative.

The real comparison is the the number and severity of outcomes from high speed collisions between full side sedans and sub substantial debris on the road (i.e reciver hitch mounts as in the case of the latest Tesla fire). To determine if the vehicle has an out of the ordinary safety problem, you have to look at fires, rollovers, catastrophic loss of control, injuries, deaths, etc.

That's what the NTSB will be doing.

Which is less safe:

a.) a small, easily contained battery fire that you were warned about and had almost an hour to avoid
b.) a rollover accident at 80MPH?

More TSA thinking (5, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 months ago | (#45464461)

>> Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds.

This is probably all a stupid kneejerk reaction. The suspension was likely already at the ideal height as determined by a lot of windtunnel etc research. Doing this will certainly create more lift under the car and so quite a lot less efficiency all in the name of being seen to be doing something visible (but actually pointless and only negative) in response to a microscopically small chance of another similar accident.

It just occurred to me that this is a whole lot like the retarded thinking behind the creation and continued existence of the TSA.

Re:More TSA thinking (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 months ago | (#45464657)

Exactly. But can't this sort of thing be overridden by the end-user? I would hope so, but probably not.

Re:More TSA thinking (0)

Jeremi (14640) | about 4 months ago | (#45464685)

This is probably all a stupid kneejerk reaction.

An excellent description of the remainder of your post. Unless you've actually talked to the people involved in making that decision, or conducted your own equivalent investigation, you have no idea whether it's justified or not. Your knee is jerking because you've found an excuse to grind your favorite axe.

except these are fires are on the road (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#45464475)

so you need to compare all the miles driven between gasoline and electric cars, not just their numbers.

Sine gasoline care drive about 3 Trillion miles a year in the US, and the total Tesla mileage. probably isn't even a million limes yet, it paint a different picture, doesn't it Elon?

Miles driven before incident is the measure that's used, not how many are on the road.

Age of cars and maintenance matter as well (4, Insightful)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#45464519)

The age of the cars matters as well, as does the relative state of maintenance.

It's a reasonable assumption/statement that all Tesla Model S cars are essentially new and likely to be in near perfect maintenance condition.

If the gasoline car fire numbers were adjusted to only include cars within the age range of Tesla Model S cars and (if possible) the number of cars still within factory warranties, I would imagine the number of gasoline car fires would be significantly lower.

Re:except these are fires are on the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464523)

isn't even a million limes yet
Silly American units of measurement.

Re:except these are fires are on the road (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464535)

Try 70 million miles and currently growing at 17 million miles a month. Google will tell you that. Or actually reading the earlier Tesla press releases. Or doing any kind of basic research to back up your bad assumption, and then realizing that your assumption is wrong.

Re:except these are fires are on the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464699)

Mmmmmm, lime flavored chips.

Also, if you want him to stop using random statistics, perhaps you should too.

the hyperbolization by press continues (5, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 4 months ago | (#45464495)

I read a story early this morning talking about Musk's posting, and the author described the three car fires as "engulfed in flames" [forbes.com]. Similar language was used in early October; engulfed, erupted, etc.

In one case, the car provided dashboard cautions immediately after collision with road debris, then warnings, then the driver pulled over a couple of minutes later, the pack was smoking, he was able to get his belongings, etc. The interior of the car remained accessible and intact.

Meanwhile, I've witnessed, fought, and heard from friends who had car fires. It typically goes something like this: smoke from somewhere. Seconds, maybe 30 if you're lucky, there are flames. Within a minute or two the car is unsalvageable. In a crash in a gasoline car, the car can be on fire within seconds, and it can be a massive fire; rear collisions break up the fuel systems, front crashes cause both oil and gasoline to leak all over hot engine exhaust parts.

Firefighters generally don't rush to car fires because by the time they got the dispatch call, the car was already gone anyway; they're there mostly to put it out so the wrecker can collect it. Seriously, go look on youtube at car fires. Within the space of a minute or two, the car is well past the point of no return.

The hyperbolization here is amazing. Years ago Bose had a little problem with their car audio systems; the electrolytic capacitors would leak the electrolyte, which would then drip down the circuit board. In some cars, the amplifier board was positioned such that this would cause a short that would at the least cause smoking, and caused several fires.

One owner described driving down the highway, hearing the stereo crackle and drop out, looking in the back window and seeing smoke, racing over to the breakdown lane and getting out and the back shelf was already in flames; he barely had time to stop the car and escape an INTERIOR PASSENGER COMPARTMENT FIRE. In a less-than-a-year-old Audi. Reportedly Audi's regional rep inspected the burned-to-the-ground car and the customer got a replacement car.

Audi, Infiniti, Corvette, and a couple of other companies were affected; recalls were made for everyone except Audi; a bunch of Audi owners banded together when Audi refused to fix the damaged speakers, and kept selling defective units to replace failed ones. nhtsa refused to discuss with us whether they had reports of other fires or failures and refused to allow owners to speak to the person handling the investigation; Audi USA repeatedly claimed they hadn't ever heard of any malfunctions or fires, when we knew they'd paid for replacement vehicles a decade prior, and continued to claim as such even after other owners had sent in registered mail complaints and received confirmation.

Lo and behold, nhtsa finally got interested and Audi revised the amp board and did a voluntary recall. Presto, no more failures. They spent years milking owners (the amps would last a few years at most before failure.)

Then there's all the exotic cars that go up in flames; car enthusiast sites cover them routinely. Funny how Ferrari and Lambo never seems to get mentioned in the press as having a lot of car fires, huh? That's what the best money in PR gets you: shit swept under the rug fast.

It's all about the stock price (4, Interesting)

jasenj1 (575309) | about 4 months ago | (#45464537)

The negative stories in financial press are designed to drive down the stock price. Then the buddies of the press - or the people the analysts really work for - can pick up shares on the dip. Or they can warn their buddies that a negative story is coming out and work the options angle.

- Jasen.

Need fires per miles driven. (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#45464549)

Fires per car is worthwhile information, but to be honest, we really need fires per miles driven information.

That is, if the fires per tesla car is 1/6,000, with a total of 6 billion miles driven, and the fires per gas car is 1/1,300 with a total of 12 billion miles driven (because people drive gas cars much further), then tesla would still be more dangerous than a gas car.

Note, I personally believe that a Tesla car is safer and less prone to fires than a gas powered car, but the statistic we really need has not been given.

Tesla's curse (5, Funny)

srussia (884021) | about 4 months ago | (#45464559)

That's what you get for using DC in a car named after me, Elon!

Re:Tesla's curse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464665)

The motors are AC...

Re:Tesla's curse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464745)

The batteries are DC

Over the air update (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464577)

"Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds."

Great. In the future I can look forward to my car's performance changing at a corporate whim just like all of my cloud-based services do.

I assume when you buy a Tesla you own the car. Does anyone know, is the Tesla's software licensed to the owner in the same way that purchased software is licensed to the buyer? Can I legally control the software on a car that I own, or does DMCA say that I am a criminal if I do any customization?

Re:Over the air update (1)

Nkwe (604125) | about 4 months ago | (#45464761)

"Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds."

Think of the hack potential. Synchronized hydraulics anyone? (So yeah it's an air system, but having all the Tesla's on the road bouncing in sync would be a sight to behold.)

Musk is comparing Apples to Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464605)

Musk is comparing single vehicle line, where the oldest car still carries factory warranty to all of the gasoline cars in the USA, some new and some 20 or more years old.

Much better comparison would be between Model S and Toyota Camry 2012-2013 or Model S vs Audi A3 2012-2013...you get the picture.

Stock price isn't falling due to fires (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 4 months ago | (#45464621)

It's falling because the stock price got way ahead of the company's prospects, which Musk himself has previously acknowledged. The fires were only a catalyst that reminded investors of the systemic, secular, and event risk associated with any company, and in particular for a company that is valued for perfection by the markets.

This confirms what I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45464633)

When dog bites a man, that's no story. When a man bites a dog, now there's a story.

In an easy angle, you see that journalism could just be covering something that the public perceives as new.

A more conspiracy angle would have the old guard threatened by electric cars and want the electric car to have negative press.

Self abuse? (2)

edibobb (113989) | about 4 months ago | (#45464649)

Sure, there have been a few fires, but that's no reason for Elon Musk to lash his own back. Poor guy.
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