Tesla Motors reveals new Model S wall charger to combat fires


Craig Manning

Tesla Motors is on fire. Literally.

Last fall, the game changing electric car company came under intense media scrutiny for a pair of high-profile fires involving its Model S sedan. The fires were caused when the battery was struck and punctured after the car ran over objects on the highway. In both cases, the drivers were able to get off the highway, park the car somewhere safe, and extricate themselves from the vehicle before the blaze truly erupted.

However, in the wake of those two similar incidents, many wondered whether or not Tesla would institute a recall of its most popular car model. Tesla’s billionaire CEO rebuffed the concerns about the vehicle, claiming that similar car fires would have been much more catastrophic in a gas-powered vehicle. For a time, that seemed like it was going to be the end of the conversation.

Now, however, Tesla is catching fire once more, and this time, the company has had to take steps to address the issue. The more recent fire concerns aren’t related to punctured batteries, but instead to overheating battery charging systems. For several months now, Tesla has been getting complaints about melted cords, smoking outlets, and even one full-scale garage fire. The flammable reports haven’t been terribly common or widespread just yet, but the fact that several different users have complained about chargers and adapters has gotten Tesla’s attention.

Not that Tesla is ready to take the full blame for the incidents just yet. The company has claimed that its electric car charging system should work just fine, provided it is plugged into a building with sufficient electric wiring. According to a report from the Christian Science Monitor, Elon Musk has gone as far as to blame the fires or near fires almost exclusively on “substandard household wiring.” Whether Tesla holds any blame in the incidents remains to be seen, but no lawsuits have yet been raised against the company.

Still, even if Tesla can’t be fully blamed for the charging issues, the company wants to make sure its image is protected and its customers kept safe. With that motivation in mind, Tesla has unveiled a few new safeguards that should make the process of charging the Model S safer – even in homes with wiring that isn’t up to code. In December, the company released a software patch that would cap or cut off Model S charging in buildings where the wiring can’t supply enough electricity. This week, Musk announced that his company would be shipping new charger connectors to customers in order to combat the issue. The new adaptors include a thermal fuse to help prevent any instance of overheating.

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The more recent fire concerns aren’t related to punctured batteries, but instead to overheating battery charging systems.

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