Relax, It Was a Run-of-the-Mill Car Fire

October 3rd, 2013

Tesla Model S fire

If a Ford catches on fire, people assume it was an accident, and the incident barely registers a blip on the radar of car blogs and news sites. The company’s stock certainly feels no repercussions.

If a Tesla catches on fire, the news media explodes like a Fisker battery pack, and the stock takes a significant hit.

Why the difference?

Because people are looking for the downfall of Tesla. They anticipate one problem sitting just under the surface, unseen, until it erupts in a ball of flames for the world see.

Those people thought it finally happened when a Tesla Model S caught fire in a sleepy suburb of Seattle.

There’s plenty of coverage of the actual event, so I’ll give only a quick rendition of it here.

The Model S burned on the side of a state highway after an incident where the car hit some kind of metal object in the road. To the cameras of random passers-by, it looked like the Tesla could have spontaneously combusted. Since pictures and rumors spread faster than official information, everyone from Tesla owners to investors went into a panic. Stock prices dropped over 6 percent. Blogs reported on the fire and questioned the integrity of the battery packs.

Tesla, of course, isn’t the kind of company to sit back and let people speak poorly of its product. The PR spin-masters there released a beautifully crafted statement that dismissed any fault for the fire and actually managed to portray just how safe the Model S is, even when in flames.

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.

Even in the midst of fire, the Model S never let its owner down.

Since the fire was caused by a collision and was not the result of any faults in the vehicle, this incident should pass quietly, and Tesla will most likely continue on its merry way.

Would you consider the purchase of a Tesla after this fire?

-tgriffith

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  1. Joe
    | #1

    I would buy one as my next car (which won’t be for a long time after buying a 2014 Mazda 3 recently) under 2 conditions:
    1) I can actually afford a Tesla
    2) there’s a bigger network of fast charging stations available, and I can charge my car at whatever my place of residence will be

    This incident is nothing nearly as bad as the Ford Pinto was, Tesla should be just fine

  2. Ray
    | #2

    That was my first thought when I heard the news.”uh oh, Tesla’s going down.” Not much can kill momentum like a fire in your product. I love Tesla’s PR…

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