A high-end Tesla Model S Plaid caught fire on Tuesday night in Haverford, Pa., Briefly trapping the driver inside, according to local firefighters. A lawyer for the owner said the vehicle “spontaneously burned down”.
Firefighters from the Gladwyne and Lower Merion Fire Departments arrived at the scene shortly before 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The firefighters, who had been trained on how to respond to battery fires involving Tesla vehicles, “installed a 5-inch supply line at the scene so that we could maintain a continuous flow of water over the fire to keep the fire going. extinguish the fire and cool the batteries until it is completely extinguished, ”according to a statement from the Gladwyne Fire Department. The driver managed to escape and no injuries were reported.
Tesla’s Model S Plaid is a high-speed, high-end version of the automaker’s original electric sedan. Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted a sensational event last month to announce the first customer deliveries of the $ 130,000 vehicle. From Ben Meiselas, a lawyer who works for the firm representing the anonymous owner, the Model S Plaid was one of the first 250 vehicles shipped to customers.
Notre cabinet & @AthleteDefender depict an executive who bought a new Tesla Plaid Model S, which was shipped in 1/250. On Tuesday, it spontaneously ignited. Our client was trapped and could have died. We have tried contacting Tesla and have so far been ignored. It’s the car after the escape. pic.twitter.com/wXyJXbWggJ
– Ben Meiselas (@meiselasb) July 1, 2021
“This is a heart-wrenching and frightening situation and an obvious major problem,” said Mark Geragos, another lawyer representing the owner. “Our preliminary investigation is ongoing, but we call on Tesla to sideline these cars until a full investigation can take place. “
There is no evidence that EVs catch fire at a different rate than internal combustion cars, but the topic has come under further scrutiny as more EVs take to fire. the road. First responders are even trained to handle electric vehicle battery fires, as they cannot be extinguished by some traditional methods.
Tesla’s vehicle fires have drawn particular attention – to the point that Musk has publicly rejected coverage of these incidents. Some companies, such as Chevrolet, Hyundai, Audi and NIO, have issued recalls regarding the possibility of fires in their electric vehicles. Others, like Jaguar, have experienced isolated fires with their electric cars.
Tesla has maintained that its cars are the safest in the world and reports annual vehicle fire statistics that are much lower than those found in gasoline-powered cars. The company has, however, made several modifications to the Model S over the years to reduce the risk of fire.
It shipped a software update in 2013 that allowed Model S to ride higher at freeway speeds to reduce the risk of debris puncturing the battery and added physical protection to new packs coming off the line. . Both of these updates were sent after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into multiple fires. (The agency closed the investigation in 2014.) Tesla also released a software update in 2016 to “provide additional security while charging” after a Model S caught fire in Norway.
Incidents involving Tesla tend to gain more media attention than other vehicles due to the company’s tendency to push the boundaries of technology, whether it is battery density, partial autonomy or vehicle design. Tesla is praised by its many fans for its willingness to go beyond the comfort zone of more conservative mainstream automakers. And with that comes closer scrutiny from the media and regulators as well.
A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the blaze, which is not surprising given that the company has disbanded its public relations department and has not responded to any inquiries during the last two years.