A Tesla Model S Sedan caught fire in a San Francisco garage around midnight May 3. According to a report on Business Insider, firefighters say they saw smoke near the vehicle’s rear right tire although the vehicle was not charging at the time. The fire was extinguished and the vehicle was removed from the garage. No one was injured. A Tesla representative said the automaker had not received any indication that the fire was caused by issues with the vehicle. Vehicle fires have become a point of contention for the electric vehicle manufacturer because of incidents that have occurred after collisions or in cases where vehicles have spontaneously combusted. This incident in San Francisco followed reports of another fire involved a parked Model S hat occurred in Shanghai, also in a parking garage, in April. Tesla is investigating that incident as well.
Fire Danger with Electric Car
While Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has said his company’s vehicles are less likely to catch fire than gas-powered ones, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that might not be the case. The NFPA gives the example recently of an electric vehicle’s battery pack that caught fire after a fatal traffic crash in California.
Engineers removed some of the power cells and had the vehicle towed. The car’s lithium-ion battery reignited three times over the next six days. While gasoline fires require an ignition source, lithium batteries have their own ignition system. Once one battery catches fire, it could produce a chain reaction igniting all other batteries it is connected. So, the NFPA has advised firefighters to use different tactics for electric vehicle fires and store these vehicles differently after crashes.
The Need for Prompt Action
These fires and the inherent dangers posed by electric vehicle batteries are cause for serious concern. Tesla has said it’s looking into the fires, but we hope federal officials will also look into what is causing parked vehicles to ignite on their own. If there is a vehicle defect or design flaw that is causing this, the at-risk vehicles should be promptly recalled.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a dangerous or defective vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain, and suffering, and emotional distress. An experienced auto defect attorney will be able to help injured victims in such cases seek and obtain maximum compensation for their losses. As auto defect lawyers who represent the rights of victims and families that have lost loved ones, we urge prompt action before someone is injured or killed.