Tesla shares faltered last week after a Tesla Model S burst into flames after hitting a metal object that had fallen onto the road in Kent, Washington. Tesla founder Elon Musk gives us a deeper look into the accounts of what happened and how much worse it could have been.
A memo from Tesla writes that a curved section of metal that fell off of a semi-trailer caused a powerful upward punch to the under side of the Model S as it drove over it, “only a force of this magnitude (25 tons) would be strong enough to punch a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle.”
In contrast, a typical gasoline car only has a thin metal sheet protecting the underbody, leaving it vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burn the entire car to the ground. The combustion energy of the Tesla battery pack is only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank and is divided into 16 modules with firewalls in between. As a consequence, the effective combustion potential is only about 1% that of the fuel in a comparable gasoline sedan.
Therefore, for consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.
Read the original article and the full memo here.