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Tesla Says Investigating Apparent Explosion of Model S Car in China

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Tesla Says Investigating Apparent Explosion of Model S Car in China


Tesla Says Investigating Apparent Explosion of Model S Car in China

A video circulating on Weibo shows a Tesla Model S bursting into flames

Photo Credit: Tesla



Tesla has sent a team to assess the incident and assist authorities

There is no word as to what caused the car to burst into flames

Another video shows three lines of cars destroyed as collateral damage

U.S. electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla Inc on Monday said it has sent a team to investigate a video on Chinese social media which showed a parked Tesla Model S car exploding, the latest in a string of fire incidents involving Tesla's cars.


The video, time-stamped Sunday evening and widely shared on China's Twitter-like Weibo, shows the parked EV emit smoke and burst into flames seconds later. A video purportedly of the aftermath showed a line of three cars completely destroyed.


Reuters was not immediately able to verify the origins of the videos, which Weibo users said were taken in Shanghai. The cause of the explosion could not be immediately ascertained from the videos.


"We immediately sent a team onsite and we're supporting local authorities to establish the facts.


From what we know now, no one was harmed," Tesla said in a statement.


The automaker declined comment further when contacted by Reuters.


There have been at least 14 instances of Tesla cars catching fire since 2013, with the majority occurring after a crash.


The automaker has said its EVs are approximately 10 times less likely to experience a fire than petrol-powered cars, based on its fleet of over 500,000 vehicles which have driven more than 10 billion miles.


It did not specify whether the statistic referred to normal use or involving accidents.



The incident comes as Tesla tries to push sales in China, where its prices were impacted by tit-for-tat tariffs imposed during Sino-U.S. trade tensions last year.


The automaker currently imports all the cars it sells in China, but is building a factory in Shanghai that will initially make its Model 3 and help reduce the impact of a trade war.


In March, Tesla was also on the receiving end of a labelling mix-up at Shanghai customs resulting in clearance for a batch of Model 3 cars being temporarily suspended.


Analysts said the latest fire incident would likely increase attention on the safety of electric vehicles but was unlikely to have a significant impact on Tesla's sales or reputation in China while the cause was being investigated.


"Tesla had fire incidents before, but they didn't have a big impact on its reputation in China," said analyst Alan Kang at LMC Automotive.


"Since its consumer base is not particularly conservative, and China is pushing the electric vehicle market, if this incident is just accidental, it will not have a big impact on Tesla," he said.


"Tesla self-ignites" was one of the most popular hashtags on Weibo on Monday, racking up over 20 million clicks. Some users urged the automaker to quickly find the cause, whereas others speculated over the impact to the value of Tesla cars currently on the road. Still more found humour in the situation.


"One lesson I learnt from the Shanghai self-exploding Tesla: Don't park your car next to a Tesla," said one commentator.




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A Model S burst in flames in a parking lot, Tesla will investigate

No one was injured in the fire.



Tesla is sending an investigative team to a Shanghai parking garage to see if it can determine what caused a Model S electric vehicle to explode into flames over the weekend. News of the car's spontaneous combustion spread on social media, complete with CCTV footage from the parking garage. Wisps of smoke began to emerge from underneath the Model S, which then exploded into flame.


According to the local fire department's Weibo account, two other cars were also damaged by the fire. Tesla also used Weibo to make a statement acknowledging the fire and its participation in the investigation.


"After learning about the accident that occurred in Shanghai, we sent the team to the scene last night," Tesla wrote (according to a Google translation). "We are actively contacting relevant departments and supporting the verification. According to current information, there are no casualties."


Electric vehicles should in theory be no less safe than gasoline powered vehicles, which often drive around carrying gallons of highly flammable liquid hydrocarbons on board. (Indeed, I've seen more than one parked car on fire in Washington, DC over the past few years, none of which were electric cars.)


While EV fires are rare, when batteries do ignite, the fire can be difficult to extinguish and the battery can often reignite in the following hours or days. That happened to the Rimac hypercar that The Grand Tour's Richard Hammond crashed, and it was also the case with a damaged Tesla in Pittsburgh earlier this month.


Source: A Model S burst in flames in a parking lot, Tesla will investigate (Ars Technica)

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