Tesla’s Battery Causing Devastating Injuries
Oh boy, Tesla again…they just can’t seem to stay out of the news. A few blog posts back we shared news about Tesla’s Autopilot causing injuries…now it’s their batteries. You would think consumers would be afraid to purchase these vehicles, unfortunately injury and death doesn’t seem to stop people from owning a Tesla.
A Washington Post article dated August 4, 2021 had the headline “While they were asleep, their Teslas burned in the garage.” According to the article the fire inspector cited the thermal management system in one of the Tesla Model S sedans as one of the two possible causes of the blaze, which showed what can happen when one electric car ignites another in a garage. The owners of the cars were asleep in their home when their neighbors knocked on their front door to tell them their garage was on fire. Both Teslas and the house were destroyed in the fire.
In November 2020, a gentleman out of Dallas had to pull his Tesla to the side of the road after hearing what sounded like an axle falling off. Moments after pulling over and vacating his vehicle, the car ignited in flames. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into alleged battery defects.
In 2019, Business Insider reported a Tesla battery fire in Shanghai. This time a Tesla was sitting in a parking garage. The car had not suffered any impacts and was not being charged at the time. Yet, due to an overheated battery, the car burst into flames.
Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla tweeted out in 2019 in response to all the negative press… “Over a million combustion engines (it’s right there in the name!) car fires per year $ thousands of deaths, but one Tesla car fire with no injuries gets the biggest headlines. Why the double standard? This is a real question.”
He quickly followed that tweet with another… “Reality is a Tesla, like most electric cars, is over 500% *less* likely to catch fire than combustion engine cars, which carry massive amounts of highly flammable fuel. Why is this never mentioned?”
Chris Brown of Aristides Capital responded to Musk by posting these statistics:
- From 2011-2015, 325 people in the US on average died each year from internal combustion vehicle fires.
- There are 263.6 million registered vehicles in the US
- That means between 2011-2015 there were on average 1.23 fire deaths per million vehicles. Of those 58% were involved in a vehicle collision.
- In 2016, Tesla produced 183,000 vehicles. By 2020 Tesla had 530,000 cars on the roads all over the globe.
- If Tesla was an average car, they would account for 1.19 fire deaths over a 3 year period.
What makes Tesla’s battery different? Or what really causes them to overheat and ignite? Tesla currently uses a lithium-ion battery pack that includes nickel, cobalt, and aluminum (referred to as NCA batteries). This combination gives Tesla vehicles a bit more range over competitor electric vehicles which are made from nickel, magnesium and cobalt (NMC). Automakers including Audi, General Motors and Hyundai have recalled electric vehicles over fire risks in recent years. Chevrolet last year even advised owners of their electric cars to not charge their vehicles overnight or to keep their fully charged vehicles in their garages. When a vehicle battery is overheated or one of its many cells experiences a short circuit, the energy in the battery is released in a very short time. That energy can cause a fire or even an explosion. The unfortunate effects of a battery fire versus a combustion engine fire is that a battery fire will burn hotter and take longer to put out.
A recent article by Screen Rant suggests that Tesla is upgrading their batteries and reformulating them to lower the risk of fire or explosion. The new battery will consist of lithium, ferrous and phosphate (LFP for short).
Only time will tell if the new battery formulation will indeed lower the risk, in the meantime there are hundreds of thousands of the old batteries in Teslas all over the world that could combust and injure or kill someone.
If you were injured or involved in an accident, it is critical that you consult with an attorney who has extensive trial litigation experience. If your case cannot be settled, it is crucial that your attorney understand how to prepare your case for trial and how to win your case.
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