Tesla Model S was affected by a nearby lightning strike while it was plugged in for charging at a supercharger station. The event was captured by the car’s owner, Sarah Day, in a video that was posted on YouTube. Though the video does not show much except the lightening strike, the owner described the incident and its after-effects in much more detail.
Tesla Model S dashboard showed errors
In an interview with Teslarati, Sarah revealed that after the lightning strike, the car’s dashboard displayed almost nine errors. These errors were signaled by different warning lights on the dashboard, which were referred to as “Christmas lights” by the Model S owner. Some of them warned about low charging battery status, leading to the deactivation of a few features, while some suggested that the car needed repairing. Moreover, the warnings indicated that the 12-volt battery was low and that the car was unable to be charged. Eventually, the battery died, and the car’s touchscreen system went offline.
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“Lightning struck near my Tesla while supercharging. The car went nuts and the 12v battery almost died. It couldn’t even be towed because the supercharger cable couldn’t be disconnected.” said Sarah.
After a few attempts, the battery was rendered functional by a tow truck driver.
Direct impact would have had no affect
It is worth noting that such a mishap occurred even when the supercharger system is supposed to possess several internal features to prevent damage from a sudden increase in power. It is predicted that the Tesla Model S suffered such impairments due to the indirect nature of the strike, as the lightning directly hitting the car would have resulted in its body acting as a Faraday cage to prevent any further calamity. Thus, it appears that the lightning first hit the supercharger system, which further directed it to the car’s internal systems.
It is still unclear if being an all-electric vehicle had something to do with the malfunctioning observed in the Model S. So far, Tesla has very firmly opined that the vulnerabilities associated with an electric car in the case of a lightning strike are no different from the dangers experienced by a normal car that runs on gasoline.