2nd Tesla Model S Fire

2nd Tesla Model S Fire

The article says it all, although this occurrence has to do much more with driver negligence, and despite the scene there were no injuries.

Mathew98 | October 28, 2013

Is anyone surprised that the driver and two passengers ran away before the car caught fire?

Look at the impact of the car from being launch in the air and crash landed on a solid wall and a tree.

The rear wheel fell off and the front caught fight as a result of the impact. Imagine the same impact in an ICE box. Would the engine ignite immediately before being pushed into the driver?

If you bang your head into a wall full steam, bad things are gonna happen (even with a helmet).

polyphase | October 28, 2013

Madre Dios! That's quite a crash and, again, the occupants walked away. A fire in a car that is already totaled is irrelevant compared to the protection the occupants got.

That it happened at 4AM tells you something about the likely state of the driver (not that it's important to judging the car).

Captain_Zap | October 28, 2013

I thought that the Model S wasn't supposed to go into Mexico. It seems like I saw that in the purchase agreeement. I assumed it was due to power concerns there.

Rheumboy | October 28, 2013

You just can't fix stupid!!!

Rheumboy | October 28, 2013

All the marajauna was burned up in the frunk.

mrspaghetti | October 28, 2013

@Captain_Zap - I'd be curious how something like that would be worded in the purchase agreement:

"This car may only be purchased provided that the buyer agrees never to take the car into Mexico."

How would such a proviso be enforced, I wonder?

Captain_Zap | October 28, 2013

Lots of storage room in the car....

Still quite impressive that the occupants ran or walked away.
It looks like the results would have been quite different in another car.

lph | October 28, 2013

Looking at the picture it does not look like the fire did much damage and was well contained. But the wall and tree certainly did their work on the poor MS peripheries.
I would not want to be in any other car in a accident. As a structural engineer I find it is amazing how the passenger compartment remains intact in all the accidents I have seen. Some car!!!

WayneH | October 28, 2013

This is disturbing to watch. The metal piece, this incident, will there be a third one?

thranx | October 28, 2013

@mrsspaghetti; can't be enforced, but....

Declaring that so doing would void the warranty would be enough to dissuade any rational owner. Would likely also void the owner's insurance.

Thomas N. | October 28, 2013

Wayne - seriously?

The Tesla Model S weighs 4600 pounds and has a very low center of gravity. To get it to go airborne this driver had to have some seriously crazy speed.

So the car goes airborne at 4am, hits a center divider, the passengers have plenty of time to exit the vehicle and *flee the scene* and this troubles you?

Hell, I see this and tell my wife that she is only allowed to take our son in the Tesla from this point forward. If she's on drugs at 4am driving him around, takes a corner at 100mph, flies through the air and hits a tree, then they'll both walk away and be able to laugh about it.

Disturbing, my a$$!

WayneH | October 28, 2013

@Thomas N.
If it is not disturbing to see a car burn, perhaps you enjoyed watching it with a bag of popcorn in your lap? seriously.

KOL2000 | October 28, 2013

I've always jokingly wondered why airlines don't make the plane out of the same material as the "black box" that always survives the crash no matter how horrible.

The passenger compartment of a Tesla is like the black box! Incredible!

Thomas N. | October 28, 2013

Wayne - From your post I took it to mean that you found the TREND of the fires to be disturbing. First the metal piece incident, then this one and then will there be a third one.

My apologies if you meant watching a Tesla burn is disturbing. I'll agree with you there.

Cindy I II III | October 28, 2013

The reporting seems fair. The only thing that bugged me a little was calling Elon's defense "spirited", rather than "scientific".

DTsea | October 28, 2013

@KOL2000 I hope you are kidding. The black box is steel (because steel is cheap and fireproof), and it is protected by where it is mounted and its small size and mass. Making airplanes out of steel (beyond making them heavier and less efficient) wont improve crashworthiness. Your Model S is aluminum (like an airplane) and is more crashworthy than the steel ICE cars it competes with.

Thomas N. | October 28, 2013

It's a George Carlin joke or somebody like that. Make airplanes out of the black box material since it always is found intact. Of course it's impractical but it's also funny.

Bighorn | October 28, 2013

I usually interpret "jokingly" to mean kidding--that's just me, though.

PorfirioR | October 28, 2013

Go airborne, crash through a concrete wall, walk away with the car in flames in the background... beat up an old lady... oh wait, I was describing my son playing Grand Theft Auto.

All kidding aside, I am afraid there will be more like this. There is no shortage of stupid people in this world.

Once people start looking past the smoke and flames and start to notice that drivers tend to walk away from these accidents, they will forget about misplaced concerns about batteries and think of Teslas as any other car, except many times safer.

Thomas N. | October 28, 2013

And so will Insurance companies. It's relatively minor to replace a 100K car compared to medical bills for injuries. You can blow through 250K pretty quickly with burns and a broken neck.

jbunn | October 28, 2013

After seeing that, I'm glad I own one.

That was a stupid crash, and I somehow suspect Tequila was involved. Driver breath probably ignited the fire.

KOL2000 | October 28, 2013

@DTsea yes by "jokingly" I meant I was really very serious. In fact, they should make airplanes resemble of big black cubes. Tesla model E will be a rectangle made of steel. That would be very safe :)

J.T. | October 28, 2013

@KOL2000 Worked for the Borg.

Flyshacker | October 28, 2013

I didn't see anybody post this UPDATE so here goes:
"Here's a statement from a Tesla spokeswoman, who says the crash did not put the owner off of Model S ownership."

“We were able to contact the driver quickly and are pleased that he is safe. This was a significant accident where the car was traveling at such a high speed that it smashed through a concrete wall and then hit a large tree, yet the driver walked away from the car with no permanent injury. He is appreciative of the safety and performance of the car and has asked if we can expedite delivery of his next Model S.”

TI Sailor | October 28, 2013

This car probably didn't have the parking sensors. Otherwise the driver would have known how close he was to the wall...

donaldmeacham1 | October 28, 2013

Agree with Rheumboy you can't fix stupid! | October 28, 2013

LOL - thanks TI Sailor, needed a laugh to wrap up my Monday.

ramtaz | October 28, 2013

This cannot be classified as a second TESLA fire! The car was driven recklessly and
deliberately crashed !. No fault of the car or any of its components!
Blame goes to the driver !! not the car!!

Jolinar | October 28, 2013

There is one saying about repetition...
What happened once was anomaly, what happened twice will happen for the third time.

But I like that after intesive usage, many milion miles driven and several really bad looking crashes by Model S customers, there's yet to be severe injury. Hope it will stay that way...

church70 | October 28, 2013

But why the fire ? why did it catch on fire ? just the speed ?

Brian H | October 29, 2013

A. The driver didn't walk away, he ran!

B. The restriction on Mexico is registration or permanent or long-term use, not visitation.

GeirT | October 29, 2013

It is very interesting to see how nervous the stock market is, Tesla shares down to USD 162: "Fiery Tesla crash torpedoes stock price". Really? Is that all it takes? One idiot drives his car to a wreck and billions evaporate? What a stock market. Be careful.

ViggoH | October 29, 2013

WayneH, excuse me for asking but would you happen to know Wayne11 from the SA comments section? ;)

Car t man | October 29, 2013

1. Batteries, when their compartments are wrecked, can be shorted physically, causing them to vent and then ignite. Different Li ion chemistries (Li ion is a very very wide group of sub level battery chemistries) respond differently
to being punctured, set on fire, etc. Tesla's can catch fire but the system is designed to firewall compartment fires and so that the flame is directed and occurs on specific places-under front hood. This is a good design.

2. Why the stock bounces so easily? Because people fear any option of "the big one" and because day traders need to do something to make a living so they trade based on any impulse there is. You read too much into stock markets.

They aren't centers of intelligence but merely a pool of herd instincts and educated (often times not even that) guessing. Imagine cows running up and down their enclosure based on small impulses, not really knowing what they are doing most of the time but with the added capability of hindsight justifications for their actions, trying to put logic and meaning into it.

You won't hear people (especially well payed ones) say we don't really know what we're doing but most of the time, we look kinda smart, except during collapses when we look like idiots.

Have some fun...

Brian H | October 29, 2013

Car t;
Payed is not a word. Paid is.

Al1 | October 29, 2013


"But why the fire ? why did it catch on fire ? just the speed ?"

When collision happens at such a high speed, fire is almost inevitable. Good design in these circumstances mean if passengers have enough time to get out of the car.

Mathew98 | October 29, 2013

@Car t man + 100

@Brian H - Most posters do not do spell checks, especially with long comments. Lighten up a bit...

Brian H | October 30, 2013

Getting tired of "payed". Pet peeve. Like seeing lots of people write "swimmed" or SLT.

Fredlambert | November 1, 2013

I wrote a very short article about the impact of the fire on sales:

NKYTA | November 1, 2013

Nice article @Fred.

gill_sans | November 1, 2013

Hm, if alcohol was involved and/or driver has a pattern of driving at high speeds at walls or trees, maybe expediting delivery of a replacement Model S shouldn't be a super high priority. Only half joking... Just thinking about those two men who lost their lives in LA recently when hit head-on by a Model S. These reports are making me drive more cautiously, knowing driving a Model S is a bit like driving a tank that can move as fast as a cat. It seems other cars, drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians are at a distinct disadvantage safety-wise.

Joe H. | November 1, 2013

@gill_sans Which cat would compare your Model S to? I definitely want my Model S to go faster than Cheetah.

Rheumboy | November 1, 2013

@Brian H

Payed is a word in the Texas dictionary. Y'all is talking to one person and all Y'all is talking to more than one person. :-)

Brian H | November 1, 2013

Need the extra letter? Sounds the same as "paid". I hope.

Fred: Fool's Login on my new computer keeps going in circles, so:
Edit: "they will inevitably be" there will ....

Except possibly in Tuxos. or is that Tixus? or ...

DouglasR | November 1, 2013

@Brian, you didn't happen to write the definition in the Urban Dictionary, did you?

Brian H | November 2, 2013

No, but I'd vote for #2 if I were a subscriber.

Brian H | November 2, 2013

#3 needs to read #1.

Car t man | November 2, 2013

Or #1 needs to read #3, or #3 needs to be paid
by #1 to accept #1's preferences..

Nothing to do with smugglers or rowboats..
Plain old "show me the money"...

Robert22 | November 2, 2013

Can we focus on the really important overlooked point here. If the cartels make this the chosen vehicle for smuggling chronic, would it have a noticeable impact on sales?

kevinf311 | November 2, 2013

Conjecture: Given the damage pattern and description of the crash, coupled with the video of the fire, I'd guess that the 12V battery might be to blame for the start of the fire. A compromise of the 12V and it's compartment could theoretically ignite the fabric (and any other flammable items) within the Frunk. The fire in the video definitely appeared to be higher up on the profile of the car with very little flame out under the body.

I wouldn't be surprised if we come to find out (provided they do an autopsy on this crash as well) that either a) the main battery caught fire due to overheating from being engulfed in flames which eventually wore down the fire prevention/suppression methods employed by the cars design, or b) the battery did not ignite at all.

The "explosions" mentioned in the article and observed in the video sounded to me like the lead acid 12V cells going but I have nothing to back that claim up.