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Tesla Fixes Fire Issue

Published Wednesday, April 09, 2014. Category: Autos

Tesla recently came out with a fix that should prevent future fires when the Model S runs over road debris.

We described these fires and their causes in a previous Tesla article about the Model S fires.

Since that time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has completed their findings on these accidents. Their conclusion is that "A defect trend has not been identified". In other words, the Tesla Model S is not an accident waiting to happen. Like many folks, we agree with this evaluation. The Model S probably is safer than most cars on the road today.

In order to prevent future fires, Tesla reprogrammed the Model S so that it sits a little higher while going down the highway (previously, the car would squat down at highway speeds in order to become more aerodynamic).

Additionally, Tesla decided to add extra plating on the underside of the cars to virtually eliminate future impact issues. Elon Musk took to the Internet to explain:

Nonetheless, we felt it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind. Starting with vehicle bodies manufactured as of March 6, all cars have been outfitted with a triple underbody shield. Tesla service will also retrofit the shields, free of charge, to existing cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.

The shields added to the underside of the car are composed of a rounded hollow aluminum bar that is designed to deflect objects. The next layer is a titanium plate, followed by a solid aluminum extrusion that provides another layer of protection and causes the car to "ramp up and over" the object if the object hasn't already been crushed.

The system appears to work well, as can be seen by the animated gif images below.

Tesla Fire Image Credit: E‏@NASHVILLAIN_

Animated Images Credit: Tesla