Stolen Tesla crashed, ripped in half, first major injury and potential fatality in a Tesla

Stolen Tesla crashed, ripped in half, first major injury and potential fatality in a Tesla

AlMc | 04/07/2014

For TM car owners/future owners a discussion about this is started in Breaking News thread. I wanted to keep the 'shorts' and 'trolls' out.

torst1 | 04/07/2014

Cheeses. The Tesla split in two and one half part got wedged between two concrete walls. Wonder how fast he was going. Must have been full throttle or near by?

From what I remember about the crash tests of model S they came out trump up and ahead of the game. So when the S was ripped in two parts there must have been major forces impacting the vehicle on impact. Way over legal limit, and in such crashes the bulk of the S does not make the result any prettier.

Let's hope those 5 innocents motorists in the Honda makes it alive.
Would hate to see innocent people suffer death due to a crazy joyrider.

Gen3Joe | 04/07/2014

Why were the police chasing this guy?! This practice has got to stop. The Model S could have been tracked via GPS at a safe distance without the guy even knowing he was being followed. Then nobody would have been hurt.

DC@Tesla | 04/07/2014

According to one report, police stopped chase after they themselves got into an accident, the suspect kept on driving another 5-7 miles until he crashed.

overlordtico | 04/07/2014

I'm more interested in knowing how he stole the car. Did he get his hands on the key fob?

weasel314 | 04/07/2014

It sounds like the perp went through the windshield which would lead me to believe he was not wearing his seat belt.

I think the "streak" is still alive as they can asterisk this one. *Stolen vehicles being driven by convicts at extremely high speeds with no seat belts have a high percentage chance of dying in any car.

johncrab | 04/07/2014

@Gen3Joe - Total agreement. In the UK they break off at 50. They would rather risk losing a criminal (temporarily) than cause this kind of carnage. This is silly cowboy stuff and it has to stop. With the air support major police departments have, that's the way to do this and trail along behind (UK model). Oh and it's pretty easy to find a Tesla, too thanks to its connectivity. It's a pretty stupid thing to steal one of these. Even more stupid is a high speed chase.

Bighorn | 04/07/2014

From one article I saw, it sounds like the driver was wedged between the building and the rear half of the car, so he was probably ejected through the rip in the car. Either way, I doubt he was wearing a seat belt. To say that someone died in a Model S would be stretching.

Flaninacupboard | 04/07/2014

But the statement "No owner has ever been killed or seriously injured in their Model S" would still be legit even if this guy dies!

tezzla.SoCal | 04/07/2014

The car had a regular calif license plate, so it looks like it was stolen from a service center.

carlk | 04/07/2014

@Flaninacupboard Great point. You have to pay to drive the safetest car in the world.

tes-s | 04/07/2014

@gen3 and @john - you will have to find another example to support your cause. According to all reports, he was not being chased by the cops.

tes-s | 04/07/2014

Perhaps this calls into question the wisdom of police calling off chases. Had they continued to pursue him, perhaps he would have been stopped before killing himself and causing serious injury to three other people.

Bighorn | 04/07/2014

reported as an owned car in for service

carlk | 04/07/2014

He was chased until the cruiser crashed.

Mark Z | 04/07/2014

Maybe it's time for Tesla to add an optional PIN entry to initially activate the Model S "car start" while pressing the brake pedal. Multiple wrong attempts could be monitored by Tesla Motors as an possible problem. Could help DUI issues as well.

DavidN | 04/07/2014

I noticed in the video that in addition to the burning front half of the Model S, you can see three separate smaller fires burning in the background. It appears that they are not coming from any of the other wrecked cars, but simply small pieces of something burning on the street. You can also see small explosions that send fireballs shooting into the air, like fireworks.

Could these be battery fragments from the wrecked Model S?

Bighorn | 04/07/2014

The battery broke up and it sounds like individual 18650s were igniting and popping.

bobrobert | 04/07/2014

Virtually all police depts. in urban areas have strict rules about pursuit, & require at least a sgt's authorization. The rules include refusing or stopping pursuit when speeds could put other drivers at unreasonable risk (due regard regulations.) In addition, there are state laws (certainly in GA) regulating emergency driving for all public safety vehicles. In my entire career in EMS, the only examples of accidents resulting from pursuit of which I'm aware in my area have been incidents of officers from outlying rural districts chasing vehicles into the city. There will always be cowboys, but they are quickly reined in or dismissed from large municipal bureaus. If the kind of chase scene you see every night on tv happens in the real world, some patrolman - and probably his supervisor - will be in deep trouble with his bureau.
Sorry, tes-s, but your logic escapes me - if the guy was still doing near 100 after PD had already dropped off, he would surely have increased speed & reckless evasive maneuvers had he continued to see pursuers, & had the kinetic energy to do even more harm.

DC@Tesla | 04/07/2014

Around 4 seconds into this video you can see the car is not on fire and the dash display is still lit. Can't see the front seats clearly (to surmise if the driver would have made it had he put his seatbelt on) but airbags do not seem to be deployed. The timeline on the video may be off too; it starts with fire in mid-section then no fire then fire again. Also, its remarkable the front is relatively intact. What kind of force is required to send a two ton car airborne!! | 04/07/2014

Wow. Stupidity resulting in death & destruction.

Bighorn | 04/07/2014

I'm not convinced there was a fatality looking at the coverage thus far.

JimR-RedwoodShores | 04/07/2014

For each problem or tragedy, it is nice to consider what we could do better in the future, even if the fault for this tragedy lies with a perpetrator in this case.

If I understand the scenario, there is a nice requested feature that could be extended to help prevent this problem:

Reportedly the MS was an "owned car" that was being worked on in a Tesla Service Center.

This scenario is somewhat kindred to handing your keys for Valet Parking. The (outstanding) requested feature is the moral equivalent of a valet key (with "less capabilities") similar to what we have with ICE cars (e.g., can't open glove box and trunk?). With Tesla, the "valet key" (or "key mode"??) should restrict the speed, power, maybe even distance (under full power?), that a car can drive.

When we drop off our car at Tesla, they (we?) should certainly put the car in a mode that precludes abusive behaviour. There may be "exceptional cases" at Tesla where they temporarily need more features... but that should be the exception, rather than the rule... and certainly Tesla can craft this mode to facilitate repair, but make such theft-abuse harder.

When a user gets back their car from the valet, or SC, it should of course be easy to put the car back into "full function" mode, and it should be very apparent (screen overlay??) that this needs to be done ASAP. Perhaps it could be as simple as having an owner's cell phone, with BlueTooth connectivity (i.e., a second authentication factor?), that cancels the mode. YMMV.

The MS with electronic controls has opened a giant range of potential solutions... it is only our imagination, the brilliant Tesla engineers, and a bit(?) of code to write.... before we make most ICE cars seem more like smoke signalling technology when compared with cell phones. [Yeah... you could get features like this with ICE cars... but I like the analogy ;-) ]

1LuckyGuy | 04/07/2014

I am curious how the car was stolen. I thought these cars were almost impossible to steal. My first thought was that the fob was within range to operate the car. I've heard many people say their fobs were inside the house and the car was still reading it. Any ideas? Btw that dude should have died in ANY car. Dude was going small airplane crash speed. The news made sure to note the explosions coming from the burning battery. Yeah. That happens. I saw a 2008-2010 Mazda 3 catch on fire on the side of the freeway last week for no apparent reason. No news. | 04/07/2014

From the video link above it sounds like the police broke off pursuit but the thief kept going

PBEndo | 04/07/2014

They didn't break off pursuit, they crashed.

oildeathspiral | 04/07/2014

tes-s +1

BTW it'll be interesting to see the media and public reaction to what seems to be the burning and "exploding" batteries scattered around the scene. They resemble sparklers or skyrockets but not bombs as do some ICE accidents. I'll take that any day over the far more devastating fires and explosions from ICEs that we've all seen over the years. | 04/07/2014

"They gave up the pursuit after one of the police cars crashed" | 04/07/2014

I do recognize there will be many "CYA" explanations of how this happened...I'm interested in how this car was stolen from the service center (did they steal the key fob?)

richard_lawson | 04/07/2014

I am only concerned for the innocent victims and the property owners, not the dead thief. He died by being ejected from the car. He likely wasn't wearing his seatbelt.

AtlantaCourier | 04/07/2014

I'm beginning to think that Tesla has not done enough to address this issue. In addition to the titanium under-body battery shield, perhaps Tesla should consider adding control surfaces to assist during those periods when the car goes airborne.

johncrab | 04/07/2014

For the sake of perspective here...

Car t man | 04/07/2014

Im said it a few months ago.. Police chases should be phased out. High speed pursuits are known to end in a bad way.

thranx | 04/07/2014

It's a passenger car, not an MRAP.

hamer | 04/07/2014

@jw40 wrote

>I am curious how the car was stolen. I thought these cars were almost >impossible to steal. My first thought was that the fob was within >range to operate the car.

Last week I drove to a local store, parked around the side, went into the store (with the key fob with me), and when I was done, and came out, I noticed that the radio was on and that the screens were lit as I approached the car. So when I put the car in park and got out of the car with the key fob still in my pocket, it apparently had not shut down. I should have noticed that as I walked away.

I rebooted it and after the reboot, the dashboard (with my foot not on the brake) disaplayed, "Car Off," as it should.

lolachampcar | 04/07/2014

We all carry around potential energy when we drive "things". ICE things waste 70% of that potential energy in the form of heat when compared to a BEV.

Damaging the storage container of the potential energy allows for an uncontrolled release of that energy (a fire). BEVs need less potential energy to perform their task thus they will ALWAYS be safer in the boundary condition where the potential energy is released all at once.

Put differently, for the same percentage of "gas" in the tank, an ICE has a lot more energy to burn thus its fire will be larger. Both will burn.

Bighorn | 04/07/2014

Nobody is reporting a dead thief, best I can tell. It's kind of an important detail.

Al1 | 04/07/2014

I think it's clear that no matter how safe the car is if you hit something at 100 miles per hour it's not going to end up nicely.

Having safe car is one thing, but inviting reckless driving is another. I don't think we want Teslas be so safe they may actually be seen as dangerous for the community.

Mike83 | 04/07/2014

Compared to Paul Walkers' death and the driver in a gasoline Porsche on a pleasure drive I guess the thiefs are lucky to have survived thus far at over 100 mph in the city.

Mike83 | 04/07/2014

Also the battery pack seems to be in the rear of the car intact. I heard a reporter say the lithium batteries exploded but it was the front where it hit the car that had a fire?

carlk | 04/07/2014

That's why I always say the spoiler is a must.

EJH | 04/07/2014

These cars are crazy fast and crazy heavy, and in the wrong hands, bad things will happen.
I agree that perhaps it is time for Tesla to make these cars tougher, or better yet, virtually impossible to steal.
FOB + PIN.....
De-activation code for Tesla or Police......
Biometric scanner......

How about a "switch" similar to the FOB that could be hidden in various spots inside the car at the owner's discretion, and would need to be pressed to enable the car to energize. Even with a FOB, no thief would be able to find the second FOB even if they knew to look for one....

"Over to you, Tesla". (Oh, and much gratitude for creating the world's best car.)

logicalthinker | 04/07/2014

My first question would be whether the criminal(s) were wearing seatbelts.

Secondarily, I do hope Tesla makes a really good valet mode, like you guys have outlined above.

Then also I wonder if there is something (make it opt-in) that Tesla could implement to remotely stop a stolen car. | 04/07/2014

With Tesla being the least stolen car in the country by a huge margin, I'm not sure we need a system to make these numbers go down even further. Other car companies have a huge way to go first.

The USA average is 3.56 thefts per 1,000 vehicles produced.

Tesla is at 0.15 thefts per 1,000 vehicles produced.

This was before the stolen LA car, so if we include it, the rate goes to .187 assuming no cars were produced since the report. In reality it's likely gone down if there were no other thefts, as many more cars have been produced.

tes-s | 04/07/2014

@bob - I agree with what you said, and understand why police rarely chase.

I was objecting to the use of this instance to pimp for stopping police chases since I think they are already restrained to the appropriate extent. I was raising the contrarian view on chases, exemplified by this instance, since rarely do chases end more badly than a car split in two and three uninvolved people going to the hospital in critical condition.

Qwiksilver | 04/07/2014

@Mark Z
Excellent suggestion. Would mitigate risk due to criminal activity.

AndyO | 04/07/2014

This fiery crash after a police chase happened this afternoon in Cocoa Fla but you can bet it won’t get the national press. The fire was more dramatic. Luckily the driver/passengers seemed to be doing better. Hopefully my html works.

WESH Report - Fiery crash after police chase

logicalthinker | 04/07/2014

Will Tesla replace this customer's car a) because the battery burned in an accident (that's in the warranty) and b) because it was stolen and totaled while in a service center?

My thought is that yes, Tesla will, and the owner has nothing to worry about, as far as getting a new Model S.

bobrobert | 04/07/2014

tes-s, I bit & you won. You're so complex.