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back to article Tesla battery fire pushes beleaguered firm's share price even lower

A third fire in five weeks for Tesla's Model S have sent shares in the electric carmaker down by a further seven per cent. Stocks were already suffering after news that Tesla didn't have enough batteries to meet demand for its motors and hadn't delivered the number of cars that analysts expected in the third quarter, with its …

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Indeed - think about how many millions (billions? trillions?) of man-hours of development have led to the current state of safety for trains, planes and automobiles with regard to both their flamable fuel (which Tesla need to do again for batteries) and with things like crumple zones, body cages, etc. (which Tesla can just use as is).

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Anonymous Coward

Still prefer a good old V8 American muscle car to the sound of an electric whine.......,

I'll leave the Tesla to the sandal wearing tree hugging bearded PC Brigade.

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Anonymous Coward

I never get why so many petrolheads seem to like sound over everything else, closely followed by the layout of an engine. I personally don't care what noise may car makes or which engine it has as long as it's fun to drive.

Electric motors have their maximum torque at 0 RPM, that is something to get excited about. Nothing sandal wearing about it, a V8 muscule car is a thing of the past in modern day clothing.

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And yet that electric car will piss all over your American V8 muscle car round a track....*

There's a lot of angst in the F1 watching community about new engines not sounding right. Its bollocks, as longs as they go round the track ridiculously quickly who gives a shit.

* YMMV. Depends on the cars.

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Coffee/keyboard

"as long as it's fun to drive"

You are not allowed to have fun on the roads, so the rozzers tell me.

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Anonymous Coward

V8 sound

I always find it funny when people comment about the sound of the V8 since the sound comes from the appalling balance of a V8 engine. Personally, I'm a fan of the V12 with a 60 degree V since it gives you as close to perfect balance as you are likely to get.

I also have absolutely nothing against electric cars. Although I do believe that batteries are a broken technology. Until you can "refill" your car at about the same speed as you can a petrol car (15 minutes or so), and until the "fuel" doesn't make up the vast majority of the weight of the vehicle, and until your "fuel" doesn't all run away if you leave the car sat at the side of the road whilst you are on holiday, I can't see them being mainstream.

Personally, I currently think that the best efficiency is from the newer diesel engines. Hydrogen fuel cells probably interest me the most for new tech, but I'm actually of the opinion that the necessary break-through for new propulsion for cars has yet to come along.

By the way, someone pointed out to me recently that the energy density of modern batteries is only about an order of magnitude below that of high explosives.

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Re: V8 sound

>> Although I do believe that batteries are a broken technology.

As well as the "refuelling issue, there's also the consideration of where the lecky comes from. Adding loads of cars to the grid is going to add incremental demand that's only going to be supplied by fossil fuel generators (at least here in the UK, and I believe almost all countries worldwide). That won't change until there's enough renewable and nuclear generation that we have an excess of "zero carbon" lecky to throw around. Lets just say, I'm not holding my breath on that.

<sacasm mode>Of course, the biggest form of renewable is (I believe) wind which is so well known for it's dependability</sarcasm mode>

Even if we sort out the supply side, there's still the minor issue that if you do the sums, our distribution network couldn't cope with anything but a small minority of cars going lecky. The costs (both in direct costs and indirect costs such as the delays while loads of roads are dug up to put bigger cables in) of such upgrades would make HS2 look like spare change.

The simple facts are that liquid hydrocarbon fuels are really high energy density, easily stored and transported, and we already have an infrastructure for transporting and dispensing them. When you consider that there are well known methods for synthesising methanol from water and atmospheric CO2 (plus a load of lecky) - it would be logical to put up large arrays of solar panels somewhere that's got a low population density and lots of reliable sunshine, and then simply shove the resulting easy to handle liquid fuel into the existing infrastructure. Current designs of petrol car can, so I'm told, be easily made flex-fuel (any mix of petrol, methanol, ethanol) with relatively minor software changes which would cost very little if integrated during system design. Even older cars with carbs can run on methanol with adjustments (rejetting), but they'd lose the ability to run on petrol.

As for hydrogen. Expensive to make (mostly from hydrocarbon sources at the moment and required huge energy inputs to compress and/or liquify), hard to store, no distribution infrastructure - and a really low energy density needing a heavy tank for limited capacity.

PS - yes I'd be happy with a V12, but I can't afford the extra 4 cylinders so I have to make do with a V8.

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Anonymous Coward

You couldn't accuse them ...

... of throwing petrol onto the flames.

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Anonymous Coward

Good time to short

If I could buy a any available Tesla car for say $80K, cause a fire and get in on youtube how much would I stand to make with shorting Tesla Stock.

I'm not saying this is what happened as so far all the fires of which there are few the customers are incredibly understanding, but I wouldn't be business without someone seeing a way to make a quick million.

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Financial Analysis Failing?

OK. The car needs some further development. That's normal, look at how many millions of 'normal' cars are recalled each year for potential fire hazards. My wife's CRV was recalled four times because of faulty wiring in the column that started a few fires.

At any rate, there seems to be a bit of tech sector financial analysis in most commentary regarding Tesla share price. Tech, specifically software, and financial services are about the only industries where stock price fluctuations, even periods of sustained reductions, aren't normal and expected.

The game isn't about the final value of the shares, its about whether or not you anticipate which direction they're going to move. There would be a lot less aggressive bullshit in the tech industry if this idea of sustained exponential increases in valuations hadn't become a thing.

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Re: Financial Analysis Failing?

In a lot of ways Tesla, since about April, has looked more like a tech company shortly after an IPO than an auto manufacturer. Look at any of the main ratios and you'll see that it doesn't look anything like GM, F, HMC, TM or the rest. It has price/book, price/sales and forward P/E that simply don't justify the stock price. Heck even looking at tech companies GOOG, FB and AAPL they aren't even close and Tesla's stock price would have to drop 50% to have it's forward P/E to come into line with the highest of the lot which is FB. The only thing I can think of that is more overpriced by these metrics is Twitter.

To me Tesla looks like it's in its own bubble with speculators propping it up but that bubble won't hold any more than the other bubbles did simply because it will take so long for them to catch up to the current price. A price which puts their market cap at nearly 1/3 that of GM and 1/4 that of Ford. No, I think once this romance fades it will be more fairly priced with a market cap around $6-7B.

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Cars in flames?

I used to drive a Ford Pinto, and a Pontiac Fiero, both known for having "fire" issues, both recalled for retro fits. Still both fine cars in their day.

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Re: Cars in flames?

Hell yeah! Ford Pinto! Someone had glued black shag carpeting to the dash of mine! It was great. Cigarettes, lighters and pocket change just lodged in the dash carpet and all you had to do was bang on the dash to get toll money and a smoke.

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Time to buy Tesla stock, while it's cheap.

It'll bounce back once the paranoia goes away

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Joke

These cars are hot!

To summarize the stock price: Fire sale!

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Design fault - not manufacturing fault

Recalls of vehicles in production are nearly always due to a manufacturing fault, such that one in so many thousand may have a problem, but once a problem is identified, all of the thousands of vehicles are recalled to check. The battery fire issues with Tesla appears to be a design issue that the battery packs can be punctured by road debris. With hindsight, looks like it should have been anticipated, but that is why we call it hindsight!

The battery fires don't seem to be catastrophic in any way, but the potential for a more serious problem exists and they immobilize the car much more severely than similar accidents affect conventional vehicles. I suspect some kind of re-design is called for, even it is is simple as a reinforced floor panel it will have to be built into the chassis.

This is where Tesla will stand or fall as a manufacturer - does it play for the long haul and swallow the (very big) cost of a re-design or does it try to paper over the issue by saying how many are working well? As a single-product company, the danger is the company fails completely if the product fails so the temptation will be to try and bluff their way through this. I hope they don't do this and have deep enough pockets to get through the re-design process, but with so many companies being driven by share-price these days I have my doubts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Design fault - not manufacturing fault

> As a single-product company

Ermm... Tesla isn't a single product company. Apart from selling cars it has other sources of income, particularly the sale of components and technology to other manufacturers, and the sale of carbon credits.

No issue with the rest of your comment, just thought I would add a clarification on that point.

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Unhappy

3 of 30 would be bad. 3 of 300 000. But how many Tesla "S"s *are* out there?

But the question is this really systemic?

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Re: 3 of 30 would be bad. 3 of 300 000. But how many Tesla "S"s *are* out there?

Other sources have pointed out the average for internal combustion engined vehicle fires is one in 15 million miles traveled. That extrapolating current Tesla data they are having one fire in 40 million miles travelled. Darn those Model S's are dangerous!

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Stop

Not that big of a deal.

A couple of Google searches yields this data:

Approximate number of cars on the road in the US in 2009: 254,212,000

Number of reported fires in 2009: 190,500

Rate: .075 fires per 100 cars

Approximate number of Tesla Model S sold in 2013: 19,000

Number of Fires in Tesla Model S: 3

Rate: .016 fires per 100 cars

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Re: Not that big of a deal.

You also need to take into account vehicle age. The US wide stats will include 30 y.o. bombs with perishing fuel lines whereas the Teslas are all new.

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cd

A little anecdotal data point: Last summer I was commuting into Miami. Over the course of two weeks I saw the same Tesla car 4 times in traffic. Two of them on its own power and two of them on a rollback. It's surprisingly large in person, nice looking. But the rollback frequency is reminiscent of 80's Jaguar ownership.

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There isn't an iPad dock in it per chance?

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Most people drive cars for years without wrecking the underside one way or another. What are Tesla drivers up to?

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Trollface

What are Tesla drivers up to?

well they bought a tesla, so i guess the bar on that is going to be pretty low :-D

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I will have to agree with this sentiment.

What is with moronic midwest-America drivers running over towbars?? Is it the new Wack a Mole?!

Get off your DAMN CELL PHONE, pay attention to the road and the general idea is NOT to hit anything!

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S'Funny.

All three Tesla fires were caused by accidents, there hasn't been one that just 'caught fire'. Unlike Ferraris.

The best of the Tesla's is the second one - where the car caught fire - after driving over a roundabout and crashing though a concrete wall. I'm not blaming the batteries for that one...

The other two are just hitting bloody great lumps of metal on the road - the recent one was unseen as a lorry swerved round it, the Tesla hit it. The driver is quoted as saying he things the Tesla saved him from a more serious injury he may have had in a normal car.

What interesting is that the Tesla do have intrusion penetration protection, and yet the impacts still went through. Given that even in rally cars which have very strong underprotection, people still get injured (Robert Kubica), so I wonder if its actually impossible (within weight limits) to make something impenetrable.

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Joke

Did you hear the one about...

This Tesla owner drives into a bar.

The barman says "Your car's on fire."

How we laughed.

"Model S battery combusted after the car ran over a tow bar,"

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