One year ago, Tesla’s entire fleet of vehicles accumulated its first billion miles, electrically powered. 3 Months ago, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) hit the 2 billion mark, and just recently, the California-based automaker surpassed 2.5 billion miles. To get to the next billion faster, the company began a 3-month road trip around the world to showcase the “uncompromised capabilities of Model S and Model X to new communities of enthusiasts.” Over the weekend, however, it seems as if those “uncompromised capabilities” may have just been compromised.
As part of its “Electric Road Trip” tour, Tesla made a stop in Biarritz, France over the weekend to promote the Model S and the Model X. In what has to be the exact opposite of showcasing a vehicle’s qualities, it seems as if one of the company’s Model S vehicles suddenly and unexpectedly caught fire.
Tesla Model S test drive gone horribly wrong
During a test drive in a Model S 90D, the model with the largest range, the vehicle reportedly made a sudden loud noise a sent a visual alert to the driver, stating that there was a “problem” with “charging.” While details are scarce, it is not yet apparent what caused this noise and alert.
At this point, the Tesla employee who was conducting the test drive asked the driver to park on the side of the road in order to figure out what was the issue with the vehicle. The Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) employee, the driver, and another passenger then exited the vehicle.
Only moments later, the Tesla Model S 90D went up in flames, and what a blaze it was.
“In France (Biarritz) a brand new Model S 90 catched fire during a test drive,” writes Redditor 3dkSdkvDskReddit. “There were 3 people in the car (a couple + Tesla employee) and they suddenly heard a loud noise (not an explosion). The car gave a message “Problems with charging” (while they were driving) so they pulled over. 1 minute later the car was in fire and this picture was taken. Fire brigade arrived and no one was hurt.”
While this story is still developing, details are slowly coming out of the woodwork. Sources are currently reaching out to members of the Tesla Motors Club in France as well as Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) itself.
“We are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation,” a Tesla spokesperson told ValueWalk. “The passengers are all unharmed. They were able to safely exit the vehicle before the incident occurred.”
Firefighters apparently arrived on the scene quickly after the vehicle went up in flames and quelled the flames. Despite the efforts of the firefighters, the Model S 90D was reportedly completely destroyed.
Not the first TSLA vehicle fire
Earlier this year, a Model S went up in flames in Norway whilst Supercharging, an incident that is eerily similar to what occurred in France over the weekend. After the incident in Norway, Tesla stated that the company would do extensive research in an attempt to find out what caused the blaze. They also emphasized that it is not dangerous to use its quick-charging stations anywhere around the world.
While this is not the first incident of a Tesla vehicle catching fire, it is important to keep in mind that while electric vehicle fires are widely reported, there is no solid evidence that states that they are any more common than gas-powered vehicle fires.
TSLA vehicles not necessarily prone to fires
Any car fire is certainly disturbing, although for some reason when it involves a Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicle, people seem to sensationalize the incidents. It is for this reason why Tesla owners, and car owners in general, should use caution in their reaction. Obviously, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicles lack the usual reason for car fires: gasoline. It is also easy to worry about the large lithium ion battery pack underneath the car, as they can be highly flammable.
At the same time, however, there are many variables which can cause a car to catch fire, and while it may seem that Tesla vehicles are prone to them, there are only a few reported incidents, despite thousands of these vehicles on the road.
An interesting tidbit, however, is that previous incidents of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicle fires have come after the vehicle underwent some sort of severe impact, usually from a crash or from debris on the road. If the battery pack is punctured, it can cause vehicle fires. These incidents stopped after Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) added a titanium shield on the bottom of the battery pack. There has been no report of an impact in the case of the incident in France over the weekend.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, although details will certainly emerge sooner rather than later.