Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) May Take Tips From GM To Prevent Fire Issues


Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has always been in the news for some reason or the other, but this time the coverage has positive following the third fire incident reported in the last five weeks. In a separate affair, though related to Tesla, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s Electrified Vehicles Engineering Chief, Pam Fletcher, was asked last week at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley if the company will share its expertise with Tesla to prevent more of Model S fire incidents.

GM made no changes to battery cells despite investigation

GM’s Engineering Chief said that the company has sold 58,000 Chevy Volts since the launch in 2010. Fletcher also said that, despite 300 million miles on the road, not a single incident has occurred similar to that of the Model S, though there were some fire issues in 2011 at the crash-testing phase.

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The issues, in the crash-testing phase, were investigated by safety regulators at the time of their occurence. Fletcher confirmed, during the interview, that even after the investigation the automaker made no changes to the battery cells, but did put “some additional reinforcement on the outside of the battery.” Apart from the reinforcement, GM also used first responders, which depowers the battery after a heavy crash.

Tesla needs to come up with a solution

The three fire incidents were a surprise as Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) had secured the highest safety ranking from authorities, and also has a first responders guide in place. It looks as though the design will have to include more a durable undercarriage protection to avert more incidents.

All three fire incidents resulted from a high-impact crash or high-speed encounters with metal debris. Even though Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said that there won’t be any recall, there is a good chance that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will open an investigation into the matter, according to a report from Huffingtonpost.

A recall at this point of time will surely hurt Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), as it would not only taint the brand, but would also require extra costs, and may even result in manufacturing delays.

It is very unlikely that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will replace the battery settings or the battery packs, which are made up of small lithium-ion battery cells, stretching across the base of the vehicle. On the other hand, GM uses large-format battery cells in a T-shape, which are installed at the middle of the Chevy Volt.

Musk surely needs some tips, and quickly, but whether it will be from GM or in-house remains to be seen.