Tuesday, 24 August 2021 16:39

Tesla's Impact Report Compares Fires Between Teslas, Gas Cars

Written by Charles Morris, EVANNEX
Tesla's Impact Report Compares Fires Between Teslas, Gas Cars Tesla's 2020 Impact Report


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When a vehicle catches fire, it’s usually no more newsworthy than a dog bite---unless of course, that vehicle is an electric car. 

Tesla suffered a spate of bad publicity following three highly-publicized vehicle fires in 2013, and almost every crash of a Tesla still seems to make the national news.


Now Tesla wants to set the record straight. In its 2020 Impact Report, the company presents data to demonstrate ICE vehicles catch fire at a far higher rate than do Teslas.


In 2019, there were almost 190,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. alone---only a tiny fraction of them involving EVs.


“From 2012 to 2020, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 205 million miles traveled,” Tesla tells us. “By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation show that, in the U.S., there is one vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled.


“In order to provide an apt comparison to NFPA data, Tesla’s data set includes instances of vehicle fires caused by structure fires, arson and other reasons unrelated to the vehicle, which account for some of the Tesla vehicle fires over this time period.”


Battery fires are rare, but they do happen---Chevrolet recently recalled 51,000 Bolt EVs after a few fires that appear to have been caused by defective battery modules. The laws of physics dictate that any medium that can store enough energy to drive a car---gasoline, a battery or anything other than “distilled unicorn tears,” as one wag quipped back in 2013---can cause a fire if something goes wrong.


Tesla and other automakers go to great lengths to minimize fire risk when they design their battery packs. Tesla co-founder Marc Tarpenning told me back in 2013, when the Tesla team designed the Roadster, their efforts to ensure its batteries were safe “verged on paranoia.”


Tesla’s battery packs are designed so each cell is isolated from its neighbors, so a single overheating cell won’t cause a chain reaction. They contain sensors that...

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