Tesla has identified the cause of a Tesla Model S, which caught fire in Shanghai last April. As this happened, news about the fire spread quickly on the Internet, leading to speculation of all kinds. In May, Tesla announced they would investigate the cause of the fire.
The automaker conducted its investigation with several Chinese and American experts. The joint analysis included information about the vehicle battery, the software currently installed, and the history. At the end of the investigation, no error was found in the system design. Instead, Tesla said a failure of a single battery module resulted in a fire.
Tesla recently released a wireless update to revise the Model S and Model X charging and thermal management settings. The update helps protect the battery, improves its life, and reduces the likelihood that it will recur.
Tesla is not the only automaker to have recently investigated the safety of batteries in its vehicles. Chinese automaker NIO made a similar investigation after three of its vehicles recently caught fire in the country.
Just one day before Tesla's announcement, NIO announced that battery module failures were responsible for their vehicle's fires. The automaker says a module in the battery pack could in some cases press against a voltage sensing cable. NIO has recalled just under 5,000 cars to avert the problem.
Tesla's statement on Weibo can be found below:
A very rough Google-translated version of this text in English:
Statement on Shanghai Vehicle Accidents | On the evening of April 21, 2019, a Tesla Model S exploded in an underground car park in Shanghai. According to the complete surveillance video, the car revealed an open flame around 8:30 pm that night after about 1 minute of smoke. After receiving the alarm, the fire department hurried to the scene to fight the fire. The accident did not cause any personal injury.
After receiving the alarm, Tesla immediately initiated the highest-level reaction procedure. The team first sent the team to the scene to put together a joint investigation team of Chinese and American technical experts and high-level management teams to work actively with government departments and follow-up. We worked with the real estate department to start the after effects.
The joint investigation team conducted a comprehensive investigation and analysis. Extensive testing of batteries, software, manufacturing data, and historical vehicle data has not identified any system failures and found that the single incident was caused by a failure of a single battery module on the front of the vehicle. After the first appearance of smoke, the safety system of the battery pack, as intended, controls the fire in a particular module of the battery and releases heat to the outside of the cabin and outside the module, leaving the rest of the battery pack intact. The vehicle personnel should have enough time to leave the vehicle safely.
Customer safety is a principle that Tesla adheres to. Due to rigorous and prudent considerations, we have updated the S and X vehicle charging and thermal management system with the OTA Air Upgrade to further protect the vehicle battery pans and improve battery life.
Although the likelihood of a Tesla electric vehicle fire accident is significantly lower than that of a gasoline vehicle, we will continue to pursue the "O Accident Rate" target. We will continue to do our utmost to solve the problem for the owner and to ensure the safety of the vehicle. If the owner detects a problem, please contact our Car Owners Service Hotline: 400-910-0707
Source: The Verge, Reuters