Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tesla can light tires AND start fires?

This is old news by now, but perhaps some of you may not have heard about the latest speed-bump for Tesla.  I am of course referring to the recent car fires that have been attributed to a potential design flaw in the Model S. 

Two cars so far have broken out into flames after running over debris (a third was set ablaze after it crashed into a concrete wall).  The battery is stored in the bottom of the car, giving it a very low center of gravity which reportedly lends itself toexcellent handling despite the vehicle’s hefty curb weight of about4600lbs.  However, the position of the battery is apparently leaving the vehicle vulnerable to ‘attacks’ from below. 

Given the Darth Vader like qualities of the Model S (particularly when it’s in black), I can’t help but be reminded of the Death Star.  All it took was a little trailer hitch to start a chain reaction that destroyed the universe’s perfect driving machine.    

All things being what they are, I don’t think it is fair to say that the Tesla Model S is unsafe to drive.  Only two have caught fire under questionable circumstances.  Maybe that third car shouldn’t have burst into flames when it hit the wall, but who’s to say what all of the variables were that occurred during that accident to cause the fire.  Furthermore, who’s to say your car wouldn’t do the same thing under those circumstances?  I’m sure the Model S isn’t the first car to catch on fire in such a situation. 

Not that I am the biggest fan of the 2013 Motor Trend Car of Year.  Under the good looks, speed and handling it is, after all, just an electric car.  In my mind, it’s a stop gap technology in place to distract the masses while a real successor to the petroleum fueled motor is identified.  However, I have to give a hearty hats-off to Mr. Musk for being able to capitalize on this trendy technology and delivering some pretty good cars in the process.   

 I don’t think this little problem will cripple Tesla’s reputation beyond repair.  After all, as we saw in the Revenge of theElectric Car, the company is no stranger to adversity.  They have come a long way in a short amount of time during a bad economy.  If it turns out the car has a flaw, they’ll fix it.  If it doesn’t, then the bad press will soon go away and it will be back to business as usual. 

Long story short, this sort of problem won’t spell the end of the electric car.  But something eventually will. 


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