Tesla wants to take a look at the stolen Tesla that was split in half

Tesla wants to take a look at the stolen Tesla that was split in half

It would be great if we get to see the data that comes out of this study.

Red Sage ca us | 06. Juli 2014

I'm sure they do.

How did this happen?

I got nuthin'. | 06. Juli 2014

This video suggests Tesla had someone at the scene of the accident.

NKYTA | 06. Juli 2014

@KevinR, I think it was video from KLTA-TV in L.A.

What I'm most concerned about is how the thief got access to the car (did he break into the service center and steal the fob?). | 06. Juli 2014

I agree-- if he stole the fob then most all is answered for me.

At about 2:30 on the above video he is following and questioning someone to his Tesla at the scene...

Captain_Zap | 06. Juli 2014

The video has been out for a long time. Some members of the community may know who this is, but one has identified him for obvious reasons. | 06. Juli 2014


I agree--I think the key question here is how the thief got control of the car, the rest is a physics experiment. Hopefully Occam's Razor rules and the dope simply stole the fob.


judimasters | 06. Juli 2014

@omarsultan I must agree. But it is human nature to overthink!

DSurber | 06. Juli 2014

As to how the thief got the fob, the simplest solution is the most likely. Maybe someone left the fob in the car. The thief touched the door handle and it popped out. So dumb luck. Or perhaps he was snooping around the SC and picked up a fob that someone set down or dropped on the ground. Came back later to boost a car. Given the fobs give access to several million dollars worth of cars, I doubt the SC keeps them in a shoebox. Breaking into the SC and into whatever safe the fobs are stored in and stealing a fob seems unlikely.

Captain_Zap | 06. Juli 2014

You are over thinking it.

judimasters | 06. Juli 2014

@Captain_Zap hehehe

Kimscar | 06. Juli 2014

As an engineer I interested in the forces exerted on the Tesla during the accident. I want to understand the accident as it unfolded. How much fire damage in the cabin etc etc.

tes-s | 06. Juli 2014

I'm sure there is something for Tesla to learn from this.

I've learned:
1. Better not to steal a Tesla
2. If you ignore #1, then try to keep it under 100.
3. If you ignore #1 and #2, then try not to get into an accident.
4. If you ignore #1, #2, and #3, thank the lord you were in a Tesla.
5. If you won't do #4 because you don't believe in god, then simply thank lord elon musk for your stupid ass still being alive.

draconious_z | 06. Juli 2014

The Photo of the scene leaves me to think that as he approached the intersection, at >100mph the light was red. So he locked up the tires trying to avoid a car or cars, crossing through... he slid and hit one, causing it change course, driving through and knocking down the light pole, and hitting the corner of the building, were the car split. The rear with the momentum and spun up power from the motor shoved itself into the building gap, while the front split off spinning knocking down the tree, and coming a fiery stop were it is in the photo. The whole time the battery pack was likely split open and a partially connected (via the solder tabs) chain of batteries string between the two halves started their own fireworks show.

And my guess is the Fob was left in the car. Most of the time I take a non tesla car in for service they want you to leave the key in it so they can move it into the garage or where ever...

draconious_z | 06. Juli 2014

The guy in the video was likely driving his loaner replacement car, after his was destroyed.

hillcountryfun | 06. Juli 2014

I love how consistently negative the Detroit News is about anything Tesla...the joke continues to be on them.

Red Sage ca us | 06. Juli 2014

I'm pretty sure the thief hit other cars and objects well before he reached the intersection. I think the car nearest the foreground just stopped there, after it was hit. Notice there are parts of the Tesla on the ground, before the intersection. With the forward momentum of traveling at speed, anything that came off the car would have come to rest several yards ahead of where they first came loose. The car took a severe beating, well before it got to the intersection and knocked over the signal light/lamp post, divided, and split fully in two.

Captain_Zap | 07. Juli 2014

Two light poles were taken out.

Bubba2000 | 07. Juli 2014

How much jail will the thief get?

lolachampcar | 07. Juli 2014

Light poles are designed to shear at the base and otherwise give along their span. They do not act like a hot wire through butter and slice a car in half.

I think drac nailed this one. Something launched the MS (curb, car,,) and the back was caught by a building leaving the front to continue on. 4700lbs at 50 mph and a very strong building are enough to cause this.

As for cells flying about and acting like fireworks, I much prefer that over 15 gallons of fuel being spread across the intersection and ignited. Anyone focusing on the battery being a safety issue here simply wants press coverage over any opportunity to report rational fact.

draconious_z | 07. Juli 2014

The poles being designed to shear off is why I came to the above conclusion. But there are many possibilities here, one of which worries me greatly... and I am hesitant to post this, but I want Tesla to investigate this possibility. It is more of a, What If...

I highly doubt the car wrapped around the pole, it would be more concave on the side... and there is not much evidence int he photo that the corner of the wall split the car... as the other side of the wall is cracked up and pushed in.

I instead fear, that the driver's input of FULL-OPEN Throttle combined with all the resistance of the car impacts, pole, and curb... may have caused the car to split itself in to two pieces due to shear torque, literally.

All the crash tests, usually have the car OFF while it is pushed into something, and most drivers actually hit the brakes before they run into something and are already decelerating. The tire tracks in this photo seem to show that he came in a bit sideways before the tires locked up, and came out of a drift to straighten up just before hitting the curb/pole area...

At the expense of one more Tesla to die in a test, I wish to see a full throttle crash test... to simulate this wreck. Or hopefully some sort of black box data that might have survived this wreck.

draconious_z | 07. Juli 2014

It is also possible that multiple cars crossing the intersection, hit the Tesla in just the right way... be it simultaneously or not, to help it split.

I hope the manage to dig up a buildings security camera footage, or maybe the light had a red light camera?! Be nice to see it all unfold... aside from any gruesome bits.

Drakester347 | 07. Juli 2014

When i start my new drama crime series on TNT, I am hiring all you guys to be my writers. Good stuff here. lol

tkanter | 07. Juli 2014

Did you see the carnage on that street? It looks like the end of a Transformers movie. If it is true, I think the story here is that the driver is still alive! That would be absolutely incredible.

EdwardG.NO2CO2 | 07. Juli 2014

What ever the speculators are smoking must be good stuff!

RonaldA | 07. Juli 2014


Im my opinion any situation which has the car split by hitting the building must put the rear end facing out. unless it hit a building other than the one it is stuck in and did a 180 before coming to rest.

Red Sage ca us | 07. Juli 2014

draconius_z wrote, "All the crash tests, usually have the car OFF while it is pushed into something..."

I have often wondered about that myself. I don't know if any of the crash test video of the Tesla Model S showed the interior, to confirm if it were actually 'ON' or not. I may have to look it up again. But yes, it does seem as if there are cables that drag vehicles into objects.

I'm fairly certain that one of those tests used to be a pole, though, in addition to the battering ram for side impacts. I can't remember seeing that among crash tests of the Model S... Ah! Found it:

2013 Tesla Model S | Pole Crash Test by NHTSA | CrashNet1 (3:10)

During the interior shots, none of the displays are lit, as far as I can tell. The pole strike is shown, as I remembered, at the driver's door. I doubt they re-test for results on the rear door of a sedan, and again at the wheels, for and aft. There is a separate video that shows the battering ram result. But it seems each of those cars were later strapped to a machine that flipped them over to test structural rigidity after an accident.

2013 Tesla Model S | Pole Crash Test Documentation | CrashNet1 (8:29)

< href="">2013 Tesla Model S | Side Crash Test Documentation | CrashNet1 (10:14)
⇒ This one shows that the car is definitely 'ON' before, during, and after the crash test. Once the Model S becomes aware a collision has taken place, it releases air bags in the cabin, and the hazard lights come on immediately, front and rear.

draconius_z wrote, "I hope [they] manage to dig up a buildings security camera footage, or maybe the light had a red light camera?! Be nice to see it all unfold... aside from any gruesome bits."

If there is security footage, TMZ will have it before anyone else, including the cops, or insurance investigators.

Red Sage ca us | 07. Juli 2014


2013 Tesla Model S | Side Crash Test Documentation | CrashNet1 (10:14)
⇒ This one shows that the car is definitely 'ON' before, during, and after the crash test. Once the Model S becomes aware a collision has taken place, it releases air bags in the cabin, and the hazard lights come on immediately, front and rear.

draconious_z | 07. Juli 2014

By ON, I actually meant the speed control, sending power to the motor, and the wheels at maximum RPMs and/or Torque. I do not yet have a Tesla, so I forget it can be "On/Off". I cannot truly afford it yet, even so, I may still try to finance one through creative means, where there is a will, there is a way... | 07. Juli 2014

The Tesla patents show a shock sensor in the battery pack that presumably disconnects the battery in the event of a severe physical shock. This makes sense as it improves safety by not having the wheels continue to be powered and high-voltage cables outside the battery will not be live. It's not clear if Tesla actually uses this technique and/or if the shock sensor is directional like air-bags, but I suspect they do. One owner claimed he was in an accident and was able to drive away, so it might only drop out in the event of a major accident.

Brian H | 07. Juli 2014

Looks like the accident drove TSLA down $5. Buy, buy!

johncrab | 07. Juli 2014

I am amazed at how many of us owners are engineers. Perhaps it's just natural that this car appeals to us based on our professional training. Naturally, we come to the analysis of this crash from our various sub-disciplines and I too want to know more about the chain of events. While most would look at this or a collapsed bridge and go for the media puffery and the "Oh, the humanity" angle, we look at this with calm and almost cold fascination and ask questions rather than make statements. Inside every engineer is an experimental physicist trying to get out.

Failure analysis will yield a mountain of data as to what forces were were applied to cause the car to come apart. Without doing any math other than in my head, I can conclude that most cars subjected to the forces here would have been in many charred pieces over a two block area. I'm already awarding this MS high marks for remaining as intact as it did.

You can't out-engineer the professional idiot.

J.T. | 07. Juli 2014

@draconius where there is a will Absolutely, I highly recommend a dead rich uncle leaving you a fortune.
Condolences and congratulations :-).

Brian H | 07. Juli 2014

The hype about an "exploding battery" seems misplaced. The gas from an ICE would have been far worse. IMO.

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2014

I have a feeling Tesla's request has more to do with the fireworks that came from the batteries. They were going off like fire crackers and launching projectiles into the air, which I presumed were the individual cells.

PV_Dave @US-PA | 07. Juli 2014

@Amped: That was a special 4th of July feature they recently implemented in the v5.9 software. Sets off Lithium Ion fireworks in the event of a separation of the front and back of the vehicle, if the vehicle is within the US at the time of separation and the date is July 4th.

I wonder what they're going to do for Halloween?

Shesmyne2 | 07. Juli 2014

I BET they do!

Why wouldn't they get it back to fully examine it? It was Tesla property.

Still Grinning ;-)

Bighorn | 07. Juli 2014

One report said it was owned and in for service. If that's true, I imagine the maxim, "You broke it, you bought it", might pertain.

jstrach3 | 08. Juli 2014

+1 David_outside_Philly
An Easter Egg, most excellent!

jstrach3 | 08. Juli 2014

I ultimately concluded what @draconious_z states; originally I theorized the car broke upon building impact, not pole. But the rear "appears" facing forward into the building, and the corners of the building don't show expected damage if cause of break. So I went to street view on Google Maps and looked at traffic light / lamp pole - it's a hefty pole and was supporting some weight. I wouldn't want to hit that pole at high speed, sheer designed into base or not.
(Would include street view photo but can't easily.)

Second, found a picture of the front half on the tow truck and the hole in windshield corroborates the reporting the driver went through the windshield. (Looked like blood on building and lamp pole too, again consistent with reports the driver was found with rear of car pinned against building.)

Question to owners: can you power brake the Model S? Lock front wheels with brake and spin rear wheels? Or only if traction-control disengaged? I ask because the skid marks would probably mean car wasn't as full torque/power at impact.

It's all speculation until / if Tesla releases any blackbox type data.

holidayday | 08. Juli 2014

Do NOT steal a Tesla.

Evidently, Tesla's Artificial Intelligent self-destruct sequence will split the car in a fiery explosion, throwing you out, and make a great cinematic fireworks sequence.

It'll be even better (worse?) if you steal one of the future self-driving cars, where the artificial intelligence is even smarter.

Bighorn | 08. Juli 2014

Power braking is not likely.

jandkw | 08. Juli 2014

How difficult it is for Tesla to code the passcode entry option, like the iphone, on the screen so the driver can enter the code before he/she takes off? This can prevent the thief somehow steal the fob and took off, or the driver neglects to leave the fob in the car for some reason.

Haeze | 08. Juli 2014

Many of the ideas presented in this tread are good ones, but I really dislike the tone of most of them... people present tham as if Tesla are a bunch of morons for NOT implementing this feature or that...

Personally, if you are leaving the 'key' to the car inside the vehicle, that is your stupidity, not Tesla's. Especially in a car with no ignition ! You never need to take the fob out of your pocket or purse... ever ! There should be no reason it gets left in the car unless it is done intentionally. To think that Tesla should have thought about people intentionally leaving their fob in the car, and implementing a second authentication factor is foolish.

PV_Dave @US-PA | 08. Juli 2014

@holidayday: I hope you're expecting the self-driving car to deliver thieves to the police station rather than the hospital or the morgue?

Red Sage ca us | 08. Juli 2014

Personally, I'm pretty sure that no one has paid closer attention to this incident than car thieves. I would not be surprised if they came to a consensus opinion:


CraigW | 13. Juli 2014

Red Sage,
I second your comment, and raise you a 20.

JohhnyS | 13. Juli 2014

Local news said the thief was a disgruntled former employee who detailed cars in for service and knew where the key fobs of service vehicles were stored.

Grinnin'.VA | 14. Juli 2014

Red Sage & CraigW

I doubt that car thieves spend much time reading about the news of watching the news on TV.

I suspect that some of those who are aware of this incident might be more inclined to look for a way to steal a Tesla without being discovered until after taking it for a joy ride.

But WTH, I'm only guess how thieves think.

Ron :)

HenryT2 | 17. Juli 2014

If you've ever seen the Tesla Model S chassis without the body as displayed in some sales centers, you've seen what is looks like an armor plated rectangle attached to front and back wheel assemblies and a motor. If you were to imagine that entire assembly being slammed sideways against something at 100mph, I imagine by virtue of its mass and relatively feeble mounting, the motor would disattach itself from the battery and keep going. If the motor was attached to the rear wheel assembly, it might fare better, or might take that rear axel with it.

The photos seem to show that the battery assembly was mostly intact except that near the rear where the rear wheel assembly was. Unfortunately, the photos only showed a remarkably intact rear portion of the car and wheels without showing the interior or the motor. It's possible that the motor, rear wheel assembly, and entire rear portion of the car remained intact when the structural integrity of the battery forced the rear assembly of the car to remain as one unit.