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Tesla, the clean energy technology success story of the year, and perhaps the decade, has just recently suffered a bit of a blow after one of its electric cars burst into flames earlier this week.
The Tesla Model S driver explained that he had been travelling southbound on the state Route 167 through Kent, a suburb of Seattle, when he thinks he struck some metal debris on the road. He pulled over to check the damage when his car disabled itself. He then began to smell burning and watched as the front end of his car caught fire.
Firefighter battles to extinguish flames consuming the Tesla Model S. (Yahoo)
Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean, in an attempt to calm fears that there may be an underlying fault with the Model S’ battery pack system, said that “this was not a spontaneous event. Every indication we have at this point is that the fire was a result of the collision and the damage sustained through that.” She explained that the fire had been contained to the front of the vehicle, and that no one had been injured.
Tesla has been praised for the safety of its battery pack, and was even awarded a top crash test score by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the highest ever rating by Consumer Reports magazine. But in general, investors are wary of lithium-ion batteries due to the fire risks. In recent years the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid has suffered from fires, and Boeing’s entire fleet of 787 Dreamliners had to be grounded after its lithium-ion batteries began to burst into spontaneously combust.
Related article: Tesla in Driverless Car Race
Two years ago, during crash testing, three Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids set on fire, but the NHTSA determined that it posed no more of a risk than conventional gasoline cars; and earlier this year fires broke out on several Boeing 787 Dreamliners due to overheating problems. The entire fleet had to be grounded for four months until improved battery systems could be installed.
The battery fire in the Tesla caused some problems for the responding firefighter, who wrote in an incident report that the thought to have controlled the fire, only to see the flames reignite. They were only able to fully extinguish the fire by dismantling most of the front end of the car then cutting an access hole into the battery pack and flooding it with water.
Shares in Tesla Motors have risen more than 400% since the beginning of the year due to the huge success that Tesla has had with the Model S, but fears that this single fire could be signs of a deeper flaw caused stock prices to fall 6% on Wednesday.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…