The electric car maker Tesla Motors has seen significant recent financial success with its stock prices rising over 400% in the last year since a highly-publicized IPO. However, a recent incident with one of the carmakers most popular models, the Tesla Model S, has proven to be sobering to investors and potential customers alike. The incident also demonstrates the difficulties that could be encountered by emergency responders and auto repair professionals alike when attempting to work with cars with entirely new technology.
The incident involved a Tesla Motors vehicle that was being driven by its owner just a few miles outside of Seattle, Washington. The driver reported that he felt that he had hit a foreign object and so stopped the car. Minutes later, however, he reported that he began to smell smoke and soon after the car erupted in flames.
When firefighters arrived on the scene the vehicle had erupted into flames and the fire seemed to be coming from the car’s battery pack which is housed underneath the floor of the vehicle. Firefighters initially experienced trouble extinguishing the fire as water proved ineffective in putting out the flames. It was only when they switched to a dry fire extinguishing chemical that they were finally able to extinguish the blaze.
Unfortunately for Tesla, the incident was captured on video and later posted on the popular auto blog, Jalopnik. This prompted some to sensationalize the incident that Tesla said was not representative of a manufacturing failure or design flaw, but rather an extreme incident caused by the collision with another object.
Tesla’s stock took a sharp plunge after reports of the event surfaced. Although the Tesla Motors vehicle is far from the first car to ever catch on fire, the company has been marketing the vehicles as the safest on the road and this incident certainly harmed that image.
More importantly perhaps, the incident demonstrated that it is important for first responders to have information about these new battery-based vehicles and how to effectively handle impacts and collisions that may result in an explosion or fire.
This also applies to auto technicians who may be performing an auto repair. Very few auto shops at this point are equipped to service these vehicles with so many of the components using different technology from most cars on the road. Eventually, if electric vehicles continue to increase in popularity and if auto repair is to stay competitive, auto technicians will want to educate themselves on working with electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S