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back to article US watchdog snaps on thick gloves to probe Tesla's FIREBALL e-cars

America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a formal investigation into the safety of the Tesla S electric car after a second vehicle of that model apparently burst into flames. Tesla itself asked for a NHTSA investigation, according to a blog post by firm's CEO Elon Musk. But this was denied by …

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Anonymous Coward

Batteries, electricity, heat = fire

Lithium-ion batteries 60 or 85 kW-h

Look what they did to the Boeing.

Solution, put in vented steel box.

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gasoline, air, heat == fire.

solution?

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Anonymous Coward

grab a brain quick

gas, air, controlled explosions = fire

look what they do to cars, trains, planes, boats, refineries, pipelines, drilling platforms.

solution, ain't got one, car fires happen

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Solution?

Tell [these] dumb American drivers that the idea is not to hit anything while motoring down a highway.

As a fellow American I have always been embarrassed by the general lack of skill from our drivers, but this takes the cake. Hit an object and blame the car for having the nerve to break down?

Yup, that's America.

If a gasoline-powered car hit the same object and had its fuel tank burst, a fuel line ruptured or a brake line cut, they would certainly wonder why the driver did not try to avoid that apparently dangerous object in the first place. But since this is an expensive, electric car, the driver of which as undoubtedly been pampered and his bum coddled in every shop he/she brings his/her raised-up nose into, the fault simply could NOT be theirs.

So, to cut to the chase: Solution? Revoke their license, they're too stupid to be behind the wheel.

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Silver badge

Re: Solution?

Yup, America is the land of "a lawsuit/insurance will fix everything and It's NEVER my responsibility"

With very few exceptions, people here don't understand why I say "stop and let me the **** out, I'll get a taxi" when they whip out the cellphone and start chatting away behind the wheel. One is so bad about talking to me LOOKING AT ME ALL THE TIME while she's driving, that I don't get in the car with her any more.

Once I had a pickup drop an engine block out of the back, when he pulled out of a side road and cut me off. It wiped the oil pan right off my engine. A woman in a BMW hit it going about 60 and never even slowed down.

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Bronze badge

Re: Solution?

" Revoke their license, they're too stupid to be behind the wheel."

Hmmm, wasn't buying a Tesla a kinda indication of that in the first place?

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Re: Solution?

The Model S with air suspension option rides unusually low at highway speeds in attempt to minimize wind drag. Its already Cd=0.24.

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Mushroom

Tesla - one hot ride

Reminds me of a 1/2-Brit piece of flash tech done in by kicked-up metal scrap.

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore

Galloping through the sward

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore

And his horse Concorde

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Silver badge

Should the issue be looked into? Absolutely! That's what we pay the regulators for. Is it a big deal? No. Just ask GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Smart, Audi, VW, BMW, Daimler, et al. about the investigations they undergo every year.

The outcome of the investigation is pretty meaningless. How well Tesla manages through the investigation will go a long way in determining if they're really ready to compete in the business of automobiles. Investigations by government bodies are a big, big part of the industry.

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Bronze badge

Musk is so full of shit

Can you compare the entire feet of gasoline vehicles with brand new Teslas? Safety has improved by design over the lifetime of the fleet. I expect the majority of vehicle fires are caused by electrical faults and fuel leaks which are more likely to occur the older the vehicle gets - there are no old Teslas.

A comparison with year old beemers or something would have been more appropriate.

The stuck by lightening thing - if his risk assessment is correct doesn't that mean more than 3 of the 18,000 odd Tesla owners should have been struck by lightening since their purchase?

The bottom of the car is made out of batteries which burn when punctured. A greater risk of catching fire doesn't surprise me. On the other hand the fires are less likely to be fast or vicious. I don't think it is a big problem for the car just a problem for Tesla's stock price which mostly made of sentiment can also go up in a puff of smoke.

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Boffin

Re: Musk is so full of shit

Newsflash: Other auto manufacturers make boneheaded decisions which compromise safety, in order to save a few bucks.

Take into account Chrysler, whose Jeep range was known to catch on fire in rear end collisions, due to the positioning of its fuel tank behind the rear axle. Making it safer would have made it more costly, but hey, its cheaper for them to pay the lawsuit than to make the vehicles safe by design.

Dont forget about Ford, whose cheapness on engine block insulation lead to fuel leaks when cold weather affected the insulation.

Then we have GM, who just want to burn your arse off, when they are not too busy letting the fuel tanks drop out of the back of their cars after a collision.

The moral of the story for cars in general, is try not to hit anything. When you do, you compromise the integrity of the car, and thus can cause fires. This applies to all car models, not just Tesla.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Worrying attitude towards safety

I am really not trying to mess up his business model. I am trying to do this to actually keep people safer

Isn't Musk building rockets to send people into space? With such a cavalier attitude towards safety I do hope there's someone like Strickland overseeing the space industry that is able to remind Musk where his responsibilities lie.

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Facepalm

Did anyone actually read the article?

Currently the stats show it has fewer fires than conventional cars.

None of the people were hurt and the fire took a long time to spread as it was well contained in the front.

Also the fires were after high speed collisions.

High energy storage systems are always going to have the potential to fail hot with catastrophic damage.

If flammable liquids poured out of it in a crash, then what would the reaction be?

You know, like a normal car...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Did anyone actually read the article?

That figure is true, but what about accidents / miles travelled?

That's the one I'd actually like to see compared. And how are they being driven? Where are they being driven?

Personally I think the real issue is not the cars, but it's a new type of fire / chemical spill they have to deal with.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Did anyone actually read the article?

> Currently the stats show it has fewer fires than conventional cars.

Do they? Has anyone actually run the numbers? With what confidence interval?

N.B. I haven't run the numbers either - I just flinch every time I see someone make a simple division and claim that *proves* something; with small sample sizes, it usually does nothing of the sort...

Vic.

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FAIL

"Burst into Flames?" -- More El Reg Sensationalism...

Your use of "burst into flames" to describe the two Tesla fires is wildly inaccurate. In both accidents the drivers were warned by the vehicle's onboard monitoring system that an unsafe condition had occurred and in both cases the drivers had plenty of time to calmly pull over and exit the vehicle. In the first instance, no "flames" actually occurred (only heat and smoke) until the fire department erroneously punctured the battery casing.

Elon Musk is correct to point us to the much greater risk of carrying around 40 liters of a highly volatile, flammable hydrocarbon in tanks much less well-protected than the Tesla's batteries.

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