The first fire took place in Washington State in October.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently defended his company’s Model S electric cars after two battery fires and slammed the “insane” media attention that his company has received following the incidents.
According to CNNMoney, the first fire took place in Washington State in October and the latest fire is reported to have taken place in Tennessee earlier this month.
“In both cases it was a large piece of metal essentially braced against the tarmac,” Musk said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press.
“I’m not saying it can’t happen again,” Musk added. “I’m saying in any kind of low-speed impact, you’re fine. Any car, Model S or not Model S, the underside is going to get significantly damaged if you drive over a large metal object.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted in a document posted to its website that it has opened a “preliminary evaluation” of the Model S battery fires.
“The Office of Defects Investigation is aware of two incidents occurring on US public highways in which the subject vehicles caught fire after an undercarriage strike with metallic roadway debris. The resulting impact damage to the propulsion battery tray initiated thermal runaway. In each incident, the vehicle’s battery monitoring system provided escalating visible and audible warnings, allowing the driver to execute a controlled stop and exit the vehicle before the battery emitted smoke and fire.”
“Based on these incidents, NHTSA is opening this preliminary evaluation to examine the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes on model year 2013 Tesla Model S vehicles.
Musk also told The AP that he has been surprise by the “insane degree” to which the media is covering the Model S battery fires, pointing out that neither fire injured anyone and that the passenger areas of the cars were undamaged during the incidents.
Musk also took to his blog to criticize the NHTSA’s decision to investigate the Model S incidents. He noted, however, that safety is paramount and that Tesla must be thought of as a safe car if sustainable transportation is to become widespread across the nation.
“Given that the incidence of fires in the Model S is far lower than combustion cars and that there have been no resulting injuries, this did not at first seem like a good use of NHTSA’s time compared to the hundreds of gasoline fire deaths per year that warrant their attention,” Musk wrote. “However… if a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport.”
What do you think of Musk’s comments? Are you concerned about the safety of the Model S after the battery fires? Will the NHTSA clear the Model S? Start a conversation about the incidents, repercussions and Musk’s comments by sounding off in the comments section.