Tesla has received a lot of bad press for a series of fires that have struck their electric-powered cars, but CEO Elon Musk wants you to know it's not a big deal. In a post on Medium today, Musk reminded people that the car fires are rare and no one has ever been killed in a Telsa.
But just in case you're still uneasy, he's going to add obstacle-destroying armor plating to every Telsa S to make his cars even more indestructible. The company will install a "triple underbody shield" made of titanium and aluminum to the underside of all Tesla vehicles to further assuage worried buyers. They'll even retrofit previous models for existing owners.
The fears of a flaming Tesla stem from the vehicle's lithium-ion battery, compared to the lead-acid battery that most vehicles use. Some battery experts have questioned the safety of the lithium-ion batteries, arguing that the newer technology is prone to overheating and fires. That worry surfaced when dramatic video and photos of a massive Tesla fire, caused by a punctured underbody, went viral last October, sending Tesla stocks down. A few number of similar stories of Tesla fires have appeared in the months since.
Musk, though, dismisses two of those fires fire as "extremely unusual" in a Medium post on Friday, and writes that the number of Tesla fires is well below the rate of fires for gasoline-powered cars. Still, people are worried, and so Musk unveiled that the company will be adding a "triple underbody shield" of metals to new Teslas. The point is to make the risk of a lithium-ion battery puncture and fire even lower.
Part of that safety trifecta is a titanium plate that "aids in neutralizing road debris," by deflecting or crushing heavy objects in the road. Like so...
In addition to that titanium, the underbody armor consists of a hollow aluminum bar and a solid aluminum extrusion, which are designed to deflect debris away from sensitive equipment and stabilize the car as it drives over the obstructions. Those came into play with this crushed alternator, as another GIF shows.
Throughout Musk's Medium piece, there's a sense that all these efforts are unnecessary and he'd rather be elsewhere. But he'll do whatever he needs to do to make criticism of his vehicles go away. "As the empirical evidence suggests, the underbody shields are not needed for a high level of safety," he writes. "However, there is significant value to minimizing owner inconvenience in the event of an impact and addressing any lingering public misperception about electric vehicle safety." The Tesla is fine as is, he argues, but take this armor, stop whining, and be gone. Preferably, off to the Tesla dealership.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.