Tesla Model S battery pack fire results from debris collision, stocks tumble

Oct 2, 2013
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Yesterday in a city near Seattle, Washington, a Tesla Model S vehicle caught fire on the side of the road, something that took firefighters awhile to extinguish, their efforts requiring them to cut through the front of the car with a circular saw in order to get adequate access to the battery. The blaze was apparently triggered by a "large metallic object" in the road that hit one of the modules on the battery pack.

The folks over at Jalopnik have a batch of pictures of the car in various states of burning, as well as a video someone nabbed of the car aflame as firefighters prepared to put it out. They also received a statement from Tesla on the matter:

“Yesterday, a Model S collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle. The car’s alert system signaled a problem and instructed the driver to pull over safely, which he did. No one was injured, and the sole occupant had sufficient time to exit the vehicle safely and call the authorities. Subsequently, a fire caused by the substantial damage sustained during the collision was contained to the front of the vehicle thanks to the design and construction of the vehicle and battery pack. All indications are that the fire never entered the interior cabin of the car. It was extinguished on-site by the fire department.”

Following the accident, Tesla's stocks took a hit as well, falling with the biggest single-day drop since July 16 by about 6-percent. According to an incident report made available in Washington, at one point the firefighters believed the fire to be extinguished, but it ended up reigniting, causing the containment process to resume. The same report shows that water appeared to make the fire worse, requiring the use of a dry chemical to extinguish it instead.

Note: Video contains strong language

Bloomberg is reporting that in addition to having to cut an access hole in the front portion of the sedan, the firefighters also had to punch holes through the battery pack. As of today, Tesla's stocks sit $12.05 lower at $180.95, though that could also be attributed to an analyst downgrade of Tesla Motors by R.W. Baird.

SOURCE: Businessweek


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