Safest Car in America Goes Up in Flames

In an embarrassing and potentially dangerous turn of events for upstart automaker Tesla, a Model S electric car burned itself into memory across the nation as a video of the vehicle engulfed in flames went viral in early October.

Our firm represents clients injured by defective automobiles and the accidents they cause. In this case, the driver was not injured, but the car was destroyed.

While driving on the freeway in Kent, Washington, Rob Carlson ran over a curved metal shard dropped from a semi-truck. The size and shape of the debris proved a problem for the Tesla when it struck the undercarriage. Penetration of the battery compartment by the debris caused fire in the front section of the lithium-ion battery pack.

Fortunately, after being told by the onboard safety system to exit the freeway and the car, Mr. Carlson was able to safely avoid the fire. However, the battery compartment fire proved stubborn, requiring firefighters to roll the vehicle on its side and cut holes in the battery compartment to fully extinguish the fire.

Fielding significant disappointment and concern, Tesla Motors CEO, Elon Musk, blogged: 

  • The safety system in the car functioned properly and the driver avoided injury
  • No flames reached the passenger compartment of the vehicle at any time
  • Significant, unusual force penetrated the quarter inch armor plate that shields the battery pack
  • The fire was less damaging than it would have been had the car been gasoline-powered

Time and investigation have yet to decide the safety of lithium-ion batteries in planes, laptops or automobiles. If you have questions about an automobile accident, speak with a reputable personal injury attorney in Raleigh.

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