Another Tesla Model S Catches Fire After Hitting Road Debris

In the third fiery incident since October, another Tesla Model S electric car caught fire after hitting road debris. This time the blaze erupted in Tennessee after the car ran over a tow hitch on the interstate, possibly damaging the undercarriage and sparking an electrical fire.

Valuewalk posted the news after a commenter shared a photo of the fire on a Tesla forum, and a spokeswoman for the company has confirmed the fire, noting that it wasn’t spontaneous.

“We have been in contact with the driver, who was not injured and believes the car saved his life. Our team is on its way to Tennessee to learn more about what happened,” she says. “We will provide more information when we’re able to do so.”

It sounds a lot like the first fiery incident in October, when the driver also hit road debris that punctured a shield and pierced the battery pack. Another blaze flamed up in Mexico when the driver ran over a roundabout and crashed into a concrete wall at high speed.

After the initial Tesla inferno, the company’s CEO Elon Musk responded with a blog post noting that the fire was contained to the front of the vehicle, which also appears to be the case this time. Maybe Musk will weigh in again, but in the meantime it sounds like Tesla owners should try to avoid driving over stuff.

Third Tesla Model S Catches Fire In Tennessee [ValueWalk.com]

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  1. Tripnmonkey says:

    Considering the conditions of our roadways in most of the country, wouldn’t this preclude driving a Tesla just about anywhere except the expertly maintained circular drive in front of your McMansion?

  2. CommonC3nts says:

    The batteries are protected by a shield stronger than gas tanks on cars, so in cases where the batteries are pierced by running over something a regular car’s gas tank would also have been pierced and leaking after the same thing.

  3. Mint says:

    Both gas powered and battery powered vehicles have the potential to catch on fire and possibly explode. The question here is which one is more likely to in similar situations. We have lots of evidence and data from driving gas powered vehicles in millions of numbers for 40+ years. Battery powered cars have only been recently mass produced to not even hundreds of thousands for less than 3 years.

    Fuel tanks these days are infinitely safer than those used back in the 1960s. Batteries will have to catch up to that.

    The way fire works in one instance is different from the other. One is a flammable liquid, when introduced to an ignition source will catch fire. The other is a reactive metal (lithium), which will catch fire under thermal runaway. Thermal runaway happens when batteries are short-circuited, such as in battery punctures.

    The way I see it is, if you puncture or damage a fuel tank, it will leak fuel, which is dangerous, but not immediately so, because there has to be ignition. If you puncture or damage a battery, it will heat up, and if the safeties are not working, then it will induce thermal runaway, and will catch on fire.

    Further complicating matters is how fuel engines also have various oils and fluids that could also leak and catch fire. A battery powered vehicle really only has the battery as a possible ignition source. Plastics and other car materials are present in both cases so I’m excluding those.

    I’ve got experience with batteries in my EE background.

  4. FusioptimaSX says:

    What I would like to know is the number of ICE powered cars that have caught fire between the first Tesla fire and this one. I think it would put some things into perspective.