Tesla "Model S" Battery Fire Kills Teenagers

Figure 1 Tesla Model S floor pan viewed from the rear. The two metal cans between the rear wheels are the electric motor (left) and the controller/inverter (right). Photograph from Wikimedia/Oleg Alexandrov

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Two teenagers died in Fort Lauderdale after being trapped in a Tesla car which burst into flames after a crash.

Federal agency will investigate Tesla crash that killed two young students

By Linda Trischitta, David Lyons, Tonya Alanez, Wayne K. Roustan

Two young men, “as close as brothers,” were supposed to be attending college in the fall. Instead, their families and classmates are mourning them after a fiery crash of an electric car on a curvy road on Fort Lauderdale beach.

Driver Barrett Riley, of Fort Lauderdale, and front-seat passenger Edgar Monserratt Martinez, of Aventura, both 18 and students at Pine Crest School, were trapped in the burning wreck and died in Tuesday’s crash, police and fire officials said. Another passenger, also 18, was taken to a hospital.

The trio was traveling in a Tesla Model S sedan along Seabreeze Boulevard before it crashed into a concrete wall, police said.

The Tesla does not use a gasoline-powered engine and is powered by a battery. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday to investigate, to “primarily focus on the emergency response in relation to the electric vehicle battery fire, including fire department activities and towing operations.”

The NTSB said it has a history of investigating emerging technologies to understand their effect on transportation accidents.

Back-seat passenger Alexander Berry, of Fort Lauderdale, was ejected from the car. Firefighters took him to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was in fair condition Wednesday, the hospital said.

The chemicals inside battery cells can be corrosive and flammable, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “Electric vehicles are not more prone to fire, but batteries can burn hotter fires that are harder to extinguish,” he said. “Once there is a fire and you melt the battery pack, chemicals come out and when those chemicals come out, the fire can start, even without a spark.”

Read more: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-sb-engulfed-flames-car-crash-20180508-story.html

The cause of the crash appears to have been irresponsible driving, but given the kid who was thrown from the car survived, it seems likely the kids who burned to death would also have survived if the batteries hadn’t caught fire. Gasoline cars can also catch fire when they crash, but the suggestion that battery fires burn hotter and are harder to extinguish than gasoline fires is a concern.

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189 thoughts on “Tesla "Model S" Battery Fire Kills Teenagers

    • Sure I guess those teslas are bad, they should not explode WHEN THEY CRASH GOING AT 90 MILES PER HOUR on a 45 mph zone! Bad car! Blame tesla! not these fucking IDIOTS rot in hell

      • It may be important to note that the idiot that skipped his seat belt survived.

      • Lithium battery cars have been known to start to burn stopped at stop signs. Lithium, as anyone at this forum knows is highly unstable. Any imperfection that gives it access to air and excess heat can cause catastrophic burning at any speed, even standing still.

      • jaime: Did you say the same thing about Pinto fires? How about air bag deaths? Are design flaws okay if they only kill “idiots”? If we all drive cars according to the law, there will never be “accidents”? Design flaws never kill good drivers…

      • Sheri May 10, 2018 at 10:50 am

        jaime: Did you say the same thing about Pinto fires?

        Pinto fires were an anomaly due to bad design (a bolt that would puncture the gas tank if they were hit from behind). They were widely criticized by everyone, and were even a butt of comics’ jokes. So I fear you may just have to get used to it …
        w.

    • “evolution in action” or Evolution INACTION ? This entire topic has got us thinking – and blethering!
      In the UK, one cannot send certain items by Post or standard Courier – 12v Lead Acid Batteries & Hydrocarbons ( maybe small quantities OK ) but eg Post Office won’t allow you to send Fuel samples for testing. Now Transportation drivers need special Certificates ot haul “hazardous” material, their vehicles have to be Marked / Identified in case of accidents. SO WHY o WHY can “just passed their Test” folk drive (high powered) HIGH Voltage Electric vehicles and caused sooooo much grief & mayhem to all & Sundry.
      Just another episode of Politicians and the Green blob getting their oar in.
      Don’t you just love it when a know-all arrives and insists in tweaking what already works fine.

  1. Sounds rather like the crash of the Rimac all-electric supercar that Richard Hammond of The Grand Tour had when filming the second series of the programme. Fortunately he was able to get out of the vehicle before it caught fire, but it burned ferociously and took 5 days to fully extinguish.
    The theory, given the lack of combustible fuel on board, seems to be that leaking oil from oil coolers – needed to keep the potentially high Li-Ion battery temperatures in check – onto the hot batteries can cause the initial ignition, but after that the chemical reactions within the battery cell can become runaway and the resultant fire is more intense, longer lasting and harder to extinguish than a “normal” fuel fire.

    • It doesn’t take any combustibles to start a “thermal runaway”, and once started, with such a large battery it will ignite anything combustible nearby.
      And yes, a thermal runaway is very difficult to put out once it has started.
      Another concern with Tesla cars are the carbon composites. The carbon fibres liberated in a fire are considerably more dangerous than asbestos. Breathing masks should be used by firefighters and nearby buildings evacuated.

      • Good point. Most people don’t know how dangerous carbon fibres can be for the lungs. It like most people don’t realise how much pollution is generated by tyres.

      • tty’s mention of “anything combustible” is 100% accurate.
        What many people do not understand, it that aluminum, magnesium-aluminum alloys, magnesium (cast products, e.g. handles, knobs, grills. etc.) are very flammable when the igniter is a hot fire.

      • Apparently the chemistry that Tesla uses in the batteries will RELEASE oxygen during a burn. From somebody that follows this: “The problem is these cathodes contain oxygen. Tesla Roadster cathodes were LiCoO2 then Tesla switched to Li(Ni-x, Co-y, Al-z)O2, aka NCA”. You do not extinguish a fire in these by cutting off oxygen with foam, etc. They supply their own. You just have to pour on the water and hope to cool down the electrodes so that they do not release more O2 and catalyze further combustion.

      • ShrNfr , in reality you contain the fire and let it burn itself out . You cannot put it out as such, merely try to stop it spreading . This is not usual when have a fuel source that burns hot and generates its own oxygen.

      • ShrNfr – I had an unforgettable chemistry class in high school many decades ago. The teacher wanted to show us the properties of a metallic element called lithium. She took a small piece out of an oil(?)-filled jar, and dropped it in a large beaker of water.
        Well, it turns out that lithium’s affinity for oxygen is so great it will strip oxygen right off a molecule of water, leaving the H2 to bubble up as a gas out of the water. The reaction is also exothermic. When the hydrogen was realeased, the heat was enough to cause it to combine with the oxygen in the air.
        The resultant boom! was loud enough to rattle the windows, and clearly startled the teacher. She used much smaller pieces of lithium in her next classes.
        You might put out a lithium fire with water, or you might blow white-hot burning material all over the area. Good luck.

      • jtom…
        Lithium, Sodium, Potassium….all in the same column under hydrogen on the periodic table. they all have similar properties and are called ‘alkali metals’. Science teachers are supplied samples immersed in oil because they react with oxygen in the air and can burn or explode.
        I know this very well because as a 12 year old science kid I produced elemental sodium in my mum’s kitchen by electrolyzing some of her supply of lye(NaOH) with a car battery. The yellow flames did NOT go out when I panicked and poured water on the crucible ( a baby food can!). Of course, these yellow flames were proof that I had succeeded in my task.

      • Owners manual for the Model S says to cordon of the area, call a hazmat team and let it burn out.

    • The big question to me seem sto be is whether these machines will end up being the road transport equivalent of Thalidomide? I am sure no one had much of a problem with trying to relieve the women from the ordeal that pregancy can be but with hindsight that is hardly the point.
      Fires that need no ignition flame just the effects of the imapce to set of an extremely exothermic chemical reaction from the contents mixing or being exposed to air. Carbon fibres released that are more dangerous that ASBESTOS???
      Time to take a very deep breath ( through a self contained breathing apparatus it seems.).
      A technology invented by nerds and marketed to nerds and zealots. What could go wrong…..?

    • I still think that the car failed, and poor Hamster got framed. You watch the footage – just before the in-car shot stops (and I wonder why) you can hear the sound of the motors get louder – they are under power. And Hammond’s eyes get wider. With fear, I think.
      I think the power control failed, the motors were under full power, and from that point Hammond was a passenger.

    • Thermal runaway, eh? Heard that somewhere once before… Oma Merkle took fright and closed down many of her power stations and wants us all to do the same… seems we’re going that way…. Oh aye! Fukushima. Funny but not amusing that we’re not closing down development of electric cars, init ?

  2. Has Tesla or any other auto firm with this type of battery ever appraised
    first responders of special handling required to deal with fires in these
    circumstances ?
    Are the companies who underwrite insurance for such vehicles aware
    of the difference between gasoline/diesel and battery powered car/truck
    fire potentials involved in crashes ?

  3. Given the small number of plug-in electric cars on the road, they have a disturbing history of fire. link Hybrids don’t have the same problem because they use a different battery chemistry.

    • An electric car is an even more deadly toy for young kids than a normal car. You can accelerate like in a sports car.
      “Back-seat passenger was ejected from the car.” No seatbelt ?

  4. Is Ralph Nader still around, fighting the motor industry? His experience might be useful in cases such as this.

    • Ralph Nader was a fraud – he objected to designs based on nothing more than his personal observation. He declared the Citation a hazard because he thought the pedals were too clsoe together (Ralph Nader never learned t drive a car) . There never any accidents tied to those “too close together pedals”. He also slandered the rear engined Corvair, claiming it had a tendency to roll over. GM invited autojournalists to examine and test the Corvair and proved to one and all that the Corvair handled vey well, with no tendency to roll. But the stupid mainstream media had annointed Nader an expert and the Corvair died. It was a wonderful vehicle from my experience as a passenger.

      • Yes the covair was a great car. When a kid, 17-18 I owned a 62 Monza, great car. It would not roll, trust me.

      • We bought a used Corvair and only got rid of it because we wanted more space.
        Bought a used Ford wagon.
        Got good use out of both.
        I suspect hitting a wall at high speed in either would have been deadly.

      • His one major accomplishment was getting the Federal DOT to fix the positioning of guardrails at bridge approaches. At the time, the guardrails were installed so that the end of the guardrail was at the beginning of the bridge deck/abutment. if someone hit the guardrail by the bridge, it would actually direct the vehicle headfirst into the concrete bridge abutment. This design flaw killed quite a few people. The fix was to extend the guardrail onto the bridge deck.

      • I read “Unsafe at Any Speed” when I knew nothing about the handling characteristics of autos, and it seemed plausible. When I got into playing with sports cars a bit later, I realized Nader was an example of a liability lawyer playing off the ignorance of his audience. His claim was that any vehicle that oversteered was unsafe, which is a crock.
        Saint Ralph has manged to be on the wrong side of most issues for most of my lifetime.

  5. I think electric cars are not supposed to have accidents. Accidents don’t sound green.Of course electric cars are very dangerous for inexperienced drivers because you have 100% power when you touch the accelerator.

    • Tesla doesn’t tell you that a +400hp model responds like hell to acceleration. +400hp is not required for an alleged “green” “clean” car that carries passengers only and is not suitable to tow a caravan or a boat. With such a lot of electrickery inside they ought to be able to put that right.

      • Non Nomen
        I don’t hear squeals from the green blob that the Tesla accelerates from 0 – 60 MPH sub 5 seconds or that it exceeds 70 MPH (UK national speed limit) but we hear plenty about any petrol or diesel car that does.

        • Neither do I. The greenies almost faint when they hear a Lambo or Maserati revving up but they applaud when a Tesla does a wheel spin.

      • @ non
        The dash instrumentation on a friends new Model X shows 400 KW used on acceleration. That’s four hundred thousand watts for the “standard” model. He chose not to drop another $40K on the one that does 0-60 in just over 2 seconds so I can’t comment on that. The regenerative braking will put 50 KW back into the battery simply by taking your foot off the accelerator. That is indeed a lot of electrical energy moving around.

    • Robertvd: you’re right about that anyone who has ever driven an electric golf cart can attest to the neck-snapping acceleration compared to the slower-off-the-mark gasoline powered equivalent.

      • Yes, electric motors have very good low-end torque. For most motors, the “back EMF” is zero at rest and increases with rotational speed up to the maximum RPM at some voltage.

    • Generally, I have found / observed that the greater the power under the Bonnet, the less there is between the ears… and if the Foot is inclined to be very large and heavy, then the Nut between the hands is likely to be Cross-threaded. for whit’s worth!

  6. Probably the earliest adopters of lithium ion cells for high power usage were the model aeroplane fraternity.
    The history of fires are quite shocking.
    One man left a pack on the front seat of a car in the sun, in California.
    Not even connected, it destroyed the whole car when it caught light.
    Its not the lithium that is the problem but the organic electrolytes and the witches brews inside that are exothermic reactors and do not need oxygen… Its a bit like using gunpowder as a fuel,. Yes, great energy density but…

    Is some tests carried out on modern LIPO cell packs
    Watch it and tell me if you want a Tesla…


    • is even more concerning. The battery was not shorted by an external short that could be handled by current limiting circuitry, It was shorted by a screw driven into the battery itself. A not improbable event in the case of a car crash.
      The only way to prevent that is armored casing – adding hugely more weight to an already heavy item..

      • There’s a name for an armored casing with explosive inside: Grenade. Unless vented it could be even more dangerous due to shrapnel when it fails. If vented, flames come out, so nothing gained.

    • The fire is from the hydrocarbon electrolyte of the lithium chemistry. Throw in the ionic potential energy as the initiator as it is an incendiary bomb. All other commercial batteries use water based electrolytes, from sulfuric acid in typical automotive units to potassium hydroxide in alkaline cells. When these experience damage and suffer runaway, the water boils, absorbing the heat.

  7. Oh come on WUWT, stop gloating at every failure of renewable energy. How many comparable posts about gasoline powered cars bursting into flames have you recently (ever) posted?
    It is demeaning of you to post this, dont do it.

    • Hard to put out vehicle fires are a concern and owners of said cars should know. Also crash rating should reflect the danger.

      • MattS
        “And Tesla owners come to WUWT for that information do they?”
        Probably not, but it’s not likely to make major news in the MSM where far more trivial items on climate change are reported by people who should be reading this blog because they are obviously ignorant of the subject.
        Nothing about the crash or fire on the socialist, climate change, EV loving, alarmist BBC’s main web page, nor on their world news page. Yet they are making a song and dance about old Roman buses catching fire, with no casualties http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44041597
        This blog is also read by numerous scientists and engineers who can publish credible, professional, informed, independent comments on the matter, and debate them, freely.

    • Gasoline fires aren’t that common, they are considerably slower to develop and much easier to put out.

      • Phil
        “Yes, only about 30 vehicle fires per hour in the US, not that common at all.”
        The vast majority of them probably started by electrical faults.
        And when petrol ignites it’s invariably with a single rapid burn as vapour is ignited then rapidly consumed before the remaining petrol burns off slowly evaporating fuel that can be extinguished fairly easily.
        It’s not the petrol that’s the problem in a car fire, its the materials the car’s made of which continues to burn ferociously.
        I have attended hundreds of conventionally fuelled cars in crashes and I’m struggling to recall when one of them resulted in a fire. It seems with a Tesla, anything more than a slow speed bump is likely to be catastrophic.
        Nor can I recall a single petrol or diesel engined car spontaneously combusting, but I have attended innumerable subject to vandalism, set on fire for fun, for the insurance or to cover up a crime.

      • Phil,
        tty said “Gasoline fires ….”
        You said “… vehicle fires …”
        Unless you elaborate, then the two subjects are not statistically related in any way (except your imagination). You are talking about two completely different things (are you doing this on purpose, or is it ignorance?)

      • @phil,
        There are a bit more than 265 million registered vehicles in the US; a fire rate of 720 per day (if that’s really it), is actually around 1 per 10,000 per year. Now, given there are less than 200K Teslas sold so far, one Tesla fire every 2 weeks is a rate higher than petrol-powered vehicles.

    • NO!
      This is a genuine and serious safety issue.
      I have owned about 100 lithium batteries since the turn of the century. I have flown these, and I have seen planes crash and burn with these in a way that never happens with fuel planes.
      Lithium batteries do not need an ignition source. Gasoline or methanol or kerosene does.
      It is not insurmountable, but it is a very serious drawback of the technology.

      • Anyone thinking this is not a serious safety concern should read the USAF rules for air transportation of Li-ion batteries.

      • Is a site dedicated to CAGW the place to discuss safety concerns about batteries? When did it last discuss the safety concerns about recharging car batteries and them exploding, as happens quite often.

      • Matts ==> You are full of it. Show us one, just one, news article about conventional auto batteries exploding recently while charging. You don’t know how many I have dealt with over the years and don’t recall any of them exploding. You claiming it happens often is BS.

      • Old style, unsealed lead/acid batteries could vent hydrogen if they were over charged. If there was a spark while disconnecting the charger cables, an explosion could occur.
        Batteries have been sealed for decades, pretty much eliminating this problem.

    • So you want Anthony to censor because you think it doesn’t fit into your narrative?
      WUWT is and has ever been a protagonist of free speech in climate matters. Now these matters become more and more linked to “renewable” energy and its antics and frolics and I appreciate this opportunity of information and opinion pieces WUWT gives to everyone very much. You don’t?

      • My narrative? Oh how wrong you are! CAGW is a crock of s#it. OK? Lets get that understood, and I appreciate WUWT a lot. What I don’t want is to see it demean itself by being ‘anti’ electric cars, ‘anti’ engineering, ans the Tesla is a superb piece of engineering by the way, and represents the future of the car.
        Oh, and renewable energy is no more an ‘antic’ or a ‘frolic’ than your rechargeable razor is.

        • WUWT isn’t ‘anti’ anything except stupidity. And offering a platform of free speech and exchange of arguments, facts, incidents and accidents is among the most intelligent and forward-looking features of this medium. Tesla odels are definitely NOT among superb masterpieces of engineering. Look it up at YT and you’ll be surprised how many extremely critical footage you’ll find. But, I must admit, here are also many drivers who love it. Anyway, nothing you’ll find in a Tesla hasn’t been invented before. It’s just a motley collection of gadgets and frills. Tesla is economically unstable and on the brink of bankruptcy. It survives, at present, only because Elon Musk manages to collect fresh money again and again from so many fools in the world.

      • You mis-understand this forum, try reading the old headlines on here.
        It is for anything that interests Mr Watts, get over it.

      • Why so defensive MattS?
        Battery driven cars are part of the ‘renewables’ master plan because all fossil fueled cars are being banned (California, UK, France etc). The ban on internal combustion engines is purely due to the claims of CAGW. Lithium rechargeable batteries are extremely dangerous, witness the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 where just constraining the battery as it was charged led to explosions. There are explicit instructions on carriage of these batteries in aircraft – in many cases they are banned. They need no external fuel or oxygen to burn and the fires are extremely intense. Tesla has gone to some lengths to prevent battery fires but they cannot prevent fires after collisions. A gasoline fire can be covered in foam and it will go out quite rapidly; a battery fire will burn on foam may even make it worse. All that can be done is flood the area with cold water to cool the burning batteries and wait.
        The PowerWall house battery packs should give insurance companies cause for concern too.
        Note that these only exist because of the claims about CO2 and catastrophic global warming.

      • @ MattS…
        Tesla’s are engineering masterpieces. Unfortunately, Tony Stark’s Elon Musk’s business model is the Ponzi scheme.
        Regarding the topics covered on WUWT…

        About Watts Up With That? News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts
        This science news site features original content from myself as well as several contributors…

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/about-wuwt/about2/
        Every article is filed under one or more categories…
        https://i2.wp.com/debunkhouse.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/wuwt_0.png
        If content other than that which shreds Gorebal Warming bothers you, I recommend that you avoid reading articles filed under categories of which you disapprove.

        • I fully second that, well, almost. Teslas are not an engineering masterpiece. They drive around with 500 kilograms of batteries where ICU get along with 75 litres of fuel.

      • MattS – have you ever bothered reading what WUWT is about?
        “About Watts Up With That? News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts.”

      • MattS,
        Why? Why do you want to suppress this information. Do you jump up and down and try to suppress the illogical hype & subsidy that encourage EVs.
        (HEY!, why don’t we as a society, require all newly constructed homes to have an EV plug included … this is a fantastic regulation that helps everyone and doesn’t hurt anyone)

      • Matts ==> You are being stupid by attacking WUWT. Do you really think these batteries were designed and made with safety the utmost priority? Read about unforeseen or unintended consequences. Things like suspension bridges failing because of unforeseen wind. You do realize that NASA is considering refusing to accredit SpaceX for manned spaceflight because of safety concerns about loading pressurized liquid oxygen with astronauts on board. Just because something is well designed doesn’t mean its mean time to failure is adequate to meet safety concerns.

      • Jim, the issue with SpaceX is that they are considering cooling the fuel to cryogenic temperatures so that they can get more of it into the tanks.
        The problem with this is they can’t keep the temperatures that cold for long. So they have to fill the tanks with the astronauts already on board so that they can launch as soon as fueling is done.
        This is where the danger lies. Normally the rocket is fueled prior to the astronauts boarding.

    • Er, where is the renewable energy failure part of this story? Electric cars have as much to do with renewable energy as fan heaters.

      • If renewable energy isnt a part of the story it has even less reason to be on WUWT.
        What next, performance of electric car comparison, best hifi?

      • You really should connect the dots.
        As more of the virtue signalers put electric cars and lithium batteries on the road, so there is more demand for electricity.
        In our current mental institution society, there is more demand for that electric power to come from “renewables”…..!
        Can you follow the dots?

      • well no.electric cars are touted as a good reason to have renewable energy and LIPO batteries are absolutely being marketed to put storage on the renewable grid.
        Imagine a series of 50 cal rounds ripping through a MWhr class battery stack.
        The total energy required to be stored to keep e.g. the UK supplied for 8 hours of darkness is several Hiroshima sized bombs worth.
        There are safe ways to store energy, one of the safest is a correctly stored set of fuel rods for a reactor. Doesn’t matter what you do to them they wont go bang.
        Next is a pile of coal. It can catch fire, but not explode.
        Then we have hydrocarbon fuels – whose safety decreases from bunker oil through kerosene to gasoline. and finally natural gas. With the latter end being extremely dangerous, as is hydrogen, as these have ‘very easy to ignite in air’ characteristics.
        Finally the most dangerous way to store energy are things like explosives, because they contain their own oxidising agents.
        As do LIPO batteries.
        A LIPO battery stack is far more dangerous than a nuclear reactor of similar power output.

      • @Leo, a slight quibble wrt coal. Lump coal, yeah. A pile of coal dust can definitely explode when the necessary conditions exist. Likewise a pile of wood logs compared to a pile of sawdust … or cotton dust.

      • Matts ==> Would you buy a house next to a substation that has big (and I mean monstrous) LIPO batteries in it for storage when RENEWABLES are off line? What are you going to pay for house insurance? Are going to worry about your spouse and kids? Maybe you’ll be happy because they are ‘well designed’.

    • Matts
      I beleive that Anthony drives an electric car himself.
      And I didn’t detect any gloating in the report. You display your own prejudice

      • @ Neil Taylor
        Actually Neil there are a whole bunch of people above who playing to their prejudices.
        MattS is making fair points.

      • @AtheoK
        ” … it wrong to point out the hypocrisy of someone desperately trying to distract or stop people from learning the very real dangers? … ”
        ——-
        Oh give us a break, guild the lily much? If you were really worried about “very real dangers” you’d not do most of the things you currently do in life. You are being disingenuous. And btw, if a vehicle did not pass vehicular certification safety standards, it would not be able to be registered for use on public roads. Drop the hyperhole.
        A single vehicle fatal accident by an 18 year old male driver is hardly a reason to knee-jerk and pretend the car was responsible.

      • WXcycles ==> Those cars are going to be parked in your garage aren’t they? How about the new charging stations with batteries or batteries for the now required solar panels in California? Do you not worry about them catching fire when charging just like the Samsung S7 phones.

      • Prejudice? Let me say it again, CAGW is a crock of shit. CO2 causes slight warming and massive increases in plant growth and is a benefit to the entire planet.
        Now we have that straight lets see how many gasoline powered cars burn: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=super+cars+burning&rlz=1C1CHBD_en-GBGB735GB736&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjF266TtP3aAhUCKFAKHavaABcQ_AUICigB&biw=1229&bih=607
        Exploding car batteries? I have had it happen to me. It is quite common: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=car+battery+explodes+when+charged&rlz=1C1CHBD_en-GBGB735GB736&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwio_8OMtf3aAhWMVsAKHXkbABAQ_AUIDSgE&biw=1229&bih=607

      • “MattS May 11, 2018 at 3:11 am
        So if some enviro morons use gasoline fires as an argument against CO2 do you think WUWT should sink to that level? This is what I said, it is demeaning to do so.”

        Again, more specious conflation as a bogus strawman, that is then used to impugn WUWT.
        Give examples and links of your alleged enviro-morons using gasoline fires as argument against CO₂.
        Then you speciously claim that WUWT sinks to the level of enviro-morons and their gasoline fire lunacy.
        A claim that indicates you do not read many WUWT articles; indeed, if you actually read any at all!?
        Instead, your claim smacks of picking up a false insult at an activist site, then dropping that claim into a comment thread.
        e.g. you focus on “fire”.
        a) No discussion regarding lithium battery safety.
        b) Nothing stated about the extremely dangerous lithium combustion products.
        c) Nothing is mentioned about a lithium battery;s location.
        d) Nothing is stated regarding how quickly lithium batteries combust or their temperatures.
        e) etc. etc. etc.
        Ergo; you did not read the article. You simply dropped into the comments and left your insult.
        An insult you have not defined explicitly, expanded why, or explained why you, personally, feel you need to attack WUWT?

    • “MattS May 10, 2018 at 1:55 am
      Oh come on WUWT, stop gloating at every failure of renewable energy. How many comparable posts about gasoline powered cars bursting into flames have you recently (ever) posted?
      It is demeaning of you to post this, dont do it.”

      Oh!?
      Is it too painful for you?
      Is it wrong to post facts?
      Facts that directly relate to health and safety?
      Is it wrong to highlight leftist hypocrisy where anything they don’t like is vilified, while everything leftists love is given free passage to harm, maim, damage, destroy of kill people and wildlife?
      Is it wrong to point out the hypocrisy of someone desperately trying to distract or stop people from learning the very real dangers?
      One thing is certain; commenters that obstruct, demean, dismiss or deride factual comments is just another symptom surrounding progressive leftist’s march to forced renewable programs that are excessively dangerous to land usability, wildlife and humans; whether solar, wind or electric vehicles.
      MattS’s specious fire claim is straw man hand waving logical fallacy.
      There is no equivalence of danger versus a internal combustion vehicle fire and the combustion products or temperatures caused by lithium battery fires.
      MattS ignores the many examples where progressives vilify internal combustion vehicle fires, even when dangers were mostly postulated. e.g. “GM Side Saddle Gas Tank” where 0.02% of GM side saddle trucks in use experienced fatal fires after certain types of crashes.
      Especially considering how dangerous lithium fires are to vehicle riders, rescuers and fire fighters.
      From Fort Lauderdale:
      https://mediaassets.wptv.com/photo/2018/05/09/wptv-deadly-tesla-crash_1525869443515_86300557_ver1.0_640_480.jpg

    • Gas powered car fires cannot compare to the dangers of a lithium battery fire, either in terms of likelihood or intensity, plus the dangers of those assisting getting electrocuted (much like the ability of a solar roof to electrocute firemen attempting to cut a hole in the roof). Get real, fella.

      • I still don’t understand why either Boeing or the regulation agencies or the insurances took the Dreamliner battery issue so lightly.

    • I guess you missed the part about emerging technologies and a lack of experience with how these fires behave and how they can be put out. The main fire station near to my home often trains by setting fire to an older gas powered car, I don’t think they’ve ever trained on a new Tesla.

      • Ordinary fire engines are not equipped to put these fires out. The firemen just watch LIPO batteries burn and see that nothing else catches fire. I am not even sure if fire extinguishers containing “Saclon”, a successor to the banned “Halon” could put an end to a blazing Tesla.

      • I’m not sure but it’s more likely the use of MetalEx would be required to snuff a Li-Ion battery fire. This is the same thing fire departments use to put out magnesium fires.

    • that’s a great idea Matt….you start….post all the incidents of spontaneous combustion with gasoline cars

    • This is a SCIENCE site, not simply a CAGW site. And there is an uncritical cult that has built up around Tesla and Musk.
      This is not gloating and calling it that reflects poorly on you, not Watts.

    • Matt: “It is demeaning of you to post this, dont do it.”
      Yesterday I went on to my share investment website and found a page describing how they were putting pressure on oil companies to embrace renewables and drop fossil fuels. I find it objectionable that the profits on my shares are being used for political campaigning. They don’t seem to see it as political campaigning, but that is what it is.
      I don’t make any particular distinction between climate alarmism and any other political campaign, I would be equally concerned if my money was being used to promote Communism, Roman Catholicism or whatever. They shouldn’t be doing this with my money.
      If they say it’s to save the planet, then the RC Church would equally well claim it’s to save my soul. Both arguments could be seen as true or false, depending on your standpoint. After all, even if climate change is a real threat, that does not necessarily imply that renewables are the best solution, or even a viable solution. They are a product being sold by corporations, and all corporations are capable of lying.
      This kind of thing is becoming all too common; renewables promoters deciding to spend funds that do not strictly speaking belong to them, especially public money, on promoting these products. One of the local libraries has a propaganda board right by the entrance promoting this stuff. A library is paid for by the taxpayers, and political campaigning is actually one of the things specifically forbidden in public buildings.
      So, I think we have a lot more to complain about where unauthorized promotion of renewables is concerned.

    • Hey now! I’m long Chevron and I’m considering shorting Tesla and any company developing self driving cars. This is just the kind of story I want to see. The world is going crazy dreaming up new technologies without due consideration of safety.

    • Lithium as part of a battery chemistry is dangerous for laptops, cars, vaping, cell phones, airplanes (phones on planes could be a sequel to snakes on planes), all in a rush to have the most kWh/Kg no matter what the cost. The 18650 battery cell tesla uses are in common usage for vaping, and we’ve seen a lot of vapers who have had a bomb go off in their mouth, or apartments that burned down from a charging device. Once the electrolyte is replaced with a solid such as in what Toyota is trying, then the battery will be safer and have a higher capacity, and Tesla will have to remake their giga-factory since no one will want explosive batteries when everyone else has safe batteries, or after safe batteries are legislated. My wife had a Samsung phone what would get extremely hot during charging, we got rid of it to be safe, avoiding thermal runaway.
      I can see the TV commercials now, Johnny and Susie looking out from their Toyota window towards their neighbors property as a bright yellow glowing Tesla shines from their window.

    • Matt,
      I don’t think your comment is entirely unfair. Especially considering the heartbreaking tragedy that this was for the families of those involved.
      I think the point of airing the story here, though, is that the electric vehicle market has been created unnaturally through gov intervention, predicated on a belief in CAGW. It’s costly, environmentally unfriendly, and now we see, potentially highly dangerous. If natural market forces had led to a shift from petrol to batteries, then obviously you wouldn’t really have people picking sides the way they are today. (For sure people would pick sides, but it would be more along the lines of picking your favorite sports team, rather than some sort of moral superiority calculus like it is today.)
      So, your perceived gloating isn’t so much against the technology, but rather the forced narrative that they’re somehow superior to fossil fuels. We see over and over again how incredibly inferior so-called “green tech” is in performance and price, and now we have another data point on safety. This IS noteworthy, whether you want to believe it or not.
      Respectfully,
      rip

    • > stop gloating at every failure of renewable energy.
      I thought Florida’s power grid was supplied by nukes and fossil plants. The only renewable energy here is regenerative braking.

    • These vehicles are worse for the environment than gasoline. The entire lithium process is a disaster for the environment.

  8. re: Lion burns hotter than gasoline. Doesn’t matter mate, they both burn hot enough to kill. The important facts here are the frequency of crash related fires, and other factors like the propensity for a ‘fireball’ of burning vapour to occur. Then adjust the stats for the driving styles of Tesla v. Corolla drivers. It’ll take a lot of study before a fair-minded person can conclude anything much.
    Except don’t drive your car into a concrete wall….
    Feel sorry for the parents though.

      • With shorted lithium batteries, fireballs are pretty much guaranteed.
        So too with petrol (gasoline) vapour.

    • It’s important to highlight the potential hazards of EVs. Most people are far less aware of these hazards than those of gasoline vehicles and there is a tendency to think that because it’s ‘green’ it’s safe.

      • Why pick on EVs? Why not point out the hazards of mountain bikes, ski lifts, any other object in today’s life.

      • “Why pick on EVs? Why not point out the hazards of mountain bikes, ski lifts, any other object in today’s life.”
        Because, Matt, this is a site dedicated to exposing the fraudulent pushing of supposedly green agendas down everyone’s throats. Electric vehicles are a part of that spectrum of insanity and the topic comes directly under the remit of this site. Most people are well aware of the hazards involved in activities like hurling yourself down mountain sides on skinny bits of wheeled aluminium and composite planks, thanks very much for the warning all the same, but not in these vehicular fire hazards. There is a significant fire hazard associated with large lithium ion batteries but you will never hear that from the establishment nor their lackey media who will fanatically push these supposedly green agendas no matter what the cost in money and lives.

      • MattS
        I don’t think you’re entirely wrong, but when the whole world promotes Tesla as an environmental white knight in the face of poisonous CO2, Musk sets himself and his vehicles up as a target.
        So where does WUWT stop? As soon as the subject veers off discussing the pure science of climate change? Perhaps we accept that, then include a bit of politics, but how much? Do we just ignore the political announcement that the UK will ban the sales of all new IC powered cars in 2040 because of climate change? The UK government, amongst others, have given everyone licence to put EV’s under the climate change microscope, how can the subject possibly be ignored?
        I get where your coming from but perhaps you could have approached it less confrontationally.

      • MattS on May 10, 2018 at 2:27 am
        Why pick on EVs? Why not point out the hazards of mountain bikes, ski lifts, any other object in today’s life.
        —-
        Are you crazy, all the precious sanctimony would leak out onto the puffy unction carpet.

    • Except don’t drive your car into a concrete wall….
      . . . or into an electric car. Or any other car.

  9. “it seems likely the kids who burned to death would also have survived if the batteries hadn’t caught fire.”
    Depends on the brain damage. Sudden deceleration makes the brain crash with the inside of the skull.
    The passenger who was ejected from the car did not have the same trauma. That’s why you always should avoid a frontal accident.

      • a lot depends.
        i came upon a crashed car. two lads in front, two behind. They spun it and rolled it avoiding an oncoming car at 120mph.
        The two lads in the front with seatbelts in had got out and were cut but intact. The two in the back who had no seatbelts were in a bad way. I didn’t want to get one out – broken bones – so i waited till the ambulance arrived.
        Contrawise a friend who walks with a limp had this to say
        “I knew I wasn’t going to make the corner on the bike, so I thought ‘what the hell’? and opened it up straight for the wall.
        I came to in a thorn tree the other side of the wall. Broken collarbone and hip”
        I am a fan of motorsport. I NEVER fail to put a seatbelt on. I’d prefer full harness and a rollcage, but they are not standard issue on road cars.
        It is doubtful whether seatbelts were the reason they couldn’t get out. most incidents that require cutting equipment are down to the car frame being crushed onto the passengers

  10. This is a video of the Tesla crash on Highway 101. Probaby a minute or two afterward – the driver is out. Now picture an identical crash involving petrol (or diesel) It would go up in an instant. Sure the Tesla does burn after a while, but it’s fairly slow and gradual. I know what I’d sooner crash in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbs8tQXnySw

    • That fire, supposedly extinguished, spontaneously reignited several days later all by itself. And the recent Tesla fire was anything but slow and gradual. And that “slow and gradual” Mountain View fire incinerated the vehicle. Gas powered cars most often have minor, under the hood fires, and
      in a collision, the fuel pump is cut off, killing any tendency to create an inferno. And an electric car can electrocute anyone who tries to cut into the metal to free a trapped occupant. Electric cars that use lithium batteries are a mortal danger. And the recent crash had a fire that was anything but slow
      and gradual. Assistance was available immediately and yet the fire was so intense that it was impossible to extract the occupants. So much for Tesla’s “slow and gradual” fires. Obviously electric cars have faulty battery safety provisions. A safety recall is in order. When solid state batteries arrive in the few years, electric cars will not be so dangerous. I see that, yet again, the greenies refuse to recognize reality and defend the indefensible. Let’s see what effect this has on those eager 400,000 customers waiting in line to buy a $50,000 potential personal coffin.

      • what ‘solid state batteries’?
        lithium is as good as it gets. And its not good enough.

      • There are much better batteries than lithium in the pipe. It will just be a number more years before you see them for consumers.

    • Petrol and diesel cars only “go up in an instant” in movies. Diesel is particularly hard to burn in and of itself and petrol burns very slowly unless it is vapourised. Let’s face it, there are millions of cars on the road today, thousands of crashes, very few fireballs and fewer deaths. Cars are not all potential fireballs just waiting to explode.
      One issue with the high power-to-weight ratio batteries is their thermal release if damaged and this makes them difficult to handle by firefighters who are used to dealing with flammable fuels which can be extinguished by cutting off oxygen. While there are still relatively few such cars on the road (rermember most electric and hybrid cars use lead-acid batteries which don’t have this problem) there will always be difficulties in knowing what to do if/when they catch fire.
      This tragic accident has to do with the poor souls who were not able to get out of the vehicle. I do hope that they were unconscious from the impact as this is not a nice way to go. I would be focussing more on the safety features of the chassis and passenger compartment to work out why they were trapped. Were there compromises to cut down weight?

      • No one has said whether they were unable to get out of vehicle because doors wouldnt open. Maybe they were really trapped

    • Errr, no. You have your world view quite backwards. Gas and diesel do not ignite on a crash. Gas and diesel can only ignite within a limited vapor pressure window, with both a lower bound and upper bound. The liquid state for both does not burn–you can fire incindiary rounds into a gas tank and nothing will ever happen.
      Too much vapor, it does not burn. Too little vapor, it does not burn.
      So, for a gasoline car to ignite, it has to have 1) a gas leak from a damaged tank, and 2) a source of ignition to spark the fumes once they reach the vapor pressure window.
      Now, what happens to a Lithium battery if it gets punctured? I leave it to you to look up the YouTube vids.

    • “Now picture an identical crash involving petrol (or diesel) It would go up in an instant.”
      You don’t know much about diesel fuel do you? Gasoline can “go up in an instant” if a combustible fuel-air mixture accumulates (usually in an enclosed space) and then ignites. It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens. With diesel the only way to make it “go up in an instant” is to use an explosive charge that disperses the oil as a fine mist.
      By the way, by your reasoning virtually every car crash should cause an explosion. Actually they almost never do.

  11. Makes you wonder if any of this was addressed in the risk assessment and management plans. If it wasn’t it certainly better had be now at the urgent risk management review meeting.

  12. What form is the lithium in these batteries. Li is, after all, a highly reactive metal, more so it it is heated.

    • lithium carbonate.It has NOTHING to do with the fires. They are all in the witches brew of organics used to form the electrolyte

      • Oh, come on, Leo. Lithium carbonate is Li2CO3. The lithium compound in the batteries is LiNiCoAlO2 in the Tesla Model S. As far as the fires, what in the name of blue blazes (literally) do you think is burning???

  13. This is not a newsworthy event. I spent a decade as a traffic homicide investigator in a large American city , and I have seen more bodies than soldiers in wartime. A1A/Sebreeze Blvd sees many car accident fatalities every year. Some 40,000 Americans are killed in accidents annually, a disproportionate number are caused by young drivers like those mentioned above. I have always advocated increasing the minimum driving age, and increasing licensing standards to be similar to those in Japan (where I now live). I don’t like to remember all of those phone calls I had to make over the years, or seeing people trying to pick up or revive the remains of their loved ones. The accident was nothing but the all too common result of young drivers in an overpowered car, something which happens on a monthly basis in South Florida.

    • If there is a problem which increases the risk, or a change to response protocol which improves outcomes, that has to be a good thing. Hopefully the investigative team will discover something useful.

    • My Uncle, Neil Carter, a former race car driver, was adamant about the inadequate reaction time of the average driver when speeds increase over 80 mph. Young drivers, especially those with video game “experience” do not fully understand this. While the battery fire may have contributed to the deaths, the driver was the cause o the crash along with the parents who gave this overpowered car to an inexperienced driver.

      • Tom in Florida
        It’s little to do with reactions unless one is racing. My old man was a successful racer and he needed good reactions as he was on the limit all the time on a track. But what he needed more of was anticipation and an understanding of what could go wrong and the dangers relative to the speed he was doing. Reactions were essential to control a slide he anticipated. A slide he didn’t anticipate would end in disaster.
        I’m a trained police driver (retired) and happily drive at 95 MPH on UK motorways (the speed limit is 70 MPH) because I anticipate and plan accordingly.
        Reactions even at 70 MPH are as likely to get you into more trouble, whilst avoiding other trouble. e.g. If you’re passing a car on the motorway with a Scania (lorry) up your chuff (backside) and the guy you’re passing decides to pull out, you can’t brake (natural reaction) or risk being rammed by the Scania, and if you swerve (natural reaction) into lane 3, you’re likely to get hit by another car. Planning would suggest it’s safer to be hit side on to the car pulling out, unless you’re unlucky, you’re likely to end up with only scraped side panels. Mind you, reactions might have you hit the horn quicker.
        The point is, it’s a mistake to believe reactions have much to do with driving safely.
        And there was a competition recently to select a youngster to compete in a car racing formula. The selection was purely by simulator and the kid turns out to be rather good. I’ll wager it was planning that got him the drive, not reactions.
        Sorry, wildly OT.

      • I think we are speaking about the same thing. You said ” But what he needed more of was anticipation and an understanding of what could go wrong and the dangers relative to the speed he was doing. ” Well, that all is part of reaction time. Thinking you can be only 1 car length behind a car going 80 mph and stop in time if that car hits the brakes is where most inexperienced drivers fail.

    • JPGuthrie
      It’s not newsworthy as a car crash, it is newsworthy in that a supposedly new technology, ultra safe car combusted so violently.
      I too was a traffic officer, in the UK, and as mentioned in an earlier post, of the hundreds of IC powered, car crashes I attended, I’m struggling to recall a single fire at one. I certainly cant’ recall the spontaneous combustion of one either.
      Considering UK roads will be restricted to non IC vehicles by 2040, the number of Tesla fires seems disproportionate to the few that are on the roads right now.
      What will the motoring landscape be like when all cars are Tesla’s, or derivatives thereof?

  14. ‘Federal agency will investigate’
    Why? Accidents kill hundreds of people every day.
    A crushed Tesla burns. We already know that.

  15. If lithium car batteries are dangerous, what about the Li ion batteries I have for my flashlights? They have a 10-year shelf life, but drop their charge as quickly as any other flashlight battery when in use. And they produce a very high heat level, just for a flashlight. Under the right circumstances, I could probably heat water for tea with them. Now, there’s a thought.
    Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Well, no, not really, because they aren’t likely to spontaneously ignite, are they? And you can’t just dispose of them in the trash, either.
    New stuff is great, sounds wonderful on the drawing board, but if it isn’t tested in all aspects including bad accidents like this, it shouldn’t be released to the public until or unless the problem is solved. In a consumer society, it’s even more important. It’s a smart thing to avoid jumping on new technology until it proves itself to be truly useful as well as safe.
    My sympathies to the families for their losses.

    • @ Sara

      If lithium car batteries are dangerous, what about the Li ion batteries I have for my flashlights?

      Well……, they @ ARE dangerous, especially if there’s more than one or two close together. Hence the USAF rules and some commercial passenger and cargo carriers’ similar rules.
      There was a terrible accident by a UPS plane a few years ago in Saudi. They were hauling a bunch of the damned things and one was apparently damaged and then went into its classic burn scenario. Then the one next to it, and then….. The crew faught bravely to get down but finally ran outta time before the fire got too big and it was over. So UPS has very restrictive rules about those batteries.
      Most airlines now have “fireproof” bags to take care of your iPhone or ‘droid when it combusts. Not sure what its made of, but the intent is to keep the fire from spreading. The Samsung phone had a poor design that allowed the battery to “short out” or be damaged.
      out,
      Gums sends…

    • You should Always be careful in how you store Li batteries. Cause yes, those batteries for your flashlight, phone, or laptop can ignite catastrophically. The amount of fire they put out is obviously equivilent to the amount of energy they can store when charged. So a laptop battery can go up in a big blaze, while a AA sized Li battery will give you a small lighter like jet of flame for a few seconds. Even then, that is more than enough to catch something nearby on fire and burn down a house. http://mobilitydigest.com/drone-lithium-battery-almost-burns-house-down/

    • And you can’t just dispose of them in the trash, either.
      “can’t” is not the word to be used here. Perhaps “should not” fits.
      I’m sure people can and do toss Li-batteries in the trash.

    • “If lithium car batteries are dangerous, what about the Li ion batteries I have for my flashlights?”
      Well, they are dangerous to a certain extent, particularly during charging and even more with fast charging.
      Personally I never charge large Li ion batteries (e. g. the battery backs for tools) unless I’m in the room myself. If I leave the room, I stop the charge. If it is a small battey, e g for camera or a cellphone, I feel safe to leave the room, but only if the immediate surroundings of charger/battery are fireproof.
      I never, ever, charge a Li-ion battery that might be below freezing (though you can safely discharge a frozen Li-ion battery, though the capacity will be much below nominal).

  16. Submariners have long experience with battery safety and risks. There is much energy and power stored in a 150,000 pound mass lead acid battery.

  17. Assistance was available at once, but the fire was so intense that extracting the occupants was impossible. Now we learn that the Tesla that wrecked and burned a few weeks ago saw its battery spontaneously reignite several days after the crash and the fire supposedly put out.
    So much for Elon Musk’s claim after that crash and battery fire – that the batteries are designed
    to catch fire gradually,giving enough time for the occupants to escape. Of course occupants often cannot escape from a crumpled vehicle. Tesla in particular is noted for its flakey door mechanisms.
    Another problem is the fact that the Model S has too much and too abrupt acceleration and uses tires designed for mileage, not grip on the road. Grippy tires significantly reduce driving range and are avoided by EV automakers.
    Another problem is how to employ the “jaws of life” to cut away metal allowing the occupants to escape. Where is it safe to cut into an electric car, without hitting a main power line and getting electrocuted?
    When solid state batteries come along (in a few years) , EV fires should be a thing of the past, but meanwhile there seems to be a need for especially certain EV makers (Tesla, in particular) to incorporate a better and safer battery design – the claim by Tesla that its cars are very safe is going up in smoke these days. I don’t think that the govt crash tests even tested Tesla cars in which the battery was in operation. If so, big,big mistake. Makes the govt tests quite invalid. This all may lea to a big safety recall. Aparently Chevy Bolt electrics have not experienced fires like Tesla has. The internet is littered with photos of more or less totally incinerated Tesla vehicles. I also foresee insurannce rates for Tesla vehicles going up.
    Naturally, as per usual, Tesla spokesmen defended their cars by noting that 500 gas powered cars
    per day catch fire. Of course there are infinitely more gas powered cars out there (260 million versus 160,000 Tesla vehicles) , but, more significantly, gas powered cars rarely have life threatening fires – fuel pumps are usually cut off upon a collision and fires are most often small,under the hood affairs. They don’t even remotely compare to the fires caused by a 900 pound lithium battery.

    • arthur4563
      In my experience, most IC powered cars combust because of electrical faults, not faults with the fuel.

      • In Sweden, the insurance companies says that about 50% of all car fires are fraudulent – jack and spare tire missing! and the car recently failing the yearly safety inspection.

        • Bengt
          I have no doubt the rest of the insured car world is much the same. Easy to do, difficult to disprove.

  18. The humble 18650 is a very useful battery. I have them in many of my devices, drill, torch, laptop etc. They hold more energy, more reliably and at a more useful terminal voltage than NiMh, alkaline or the like. I’m very aware of the fire risk if they get shorted though, and am usually quite careful not to risk that happening. .
    Having hundreds or thousands of the things in a vehicle is an entirely different matter though. Especially as it only takes one in a pack shorting to start a fire which can burn though insulation, causing the rest to also short out and go up in flames. The risk of one shorting out of say six in a drill is minor compared to that. A simple case of statistics, really.
    Although gasoline is very inflammable, cases of tanks going up are fortunately rare. It remains to be seen how common traction battery fires will be, as the tech is so new.

    • It is singled out because EV technology is still relatively new and it is being seriously promoted. Thus, it is important to know whether this was a driver failure or a technology failure. It is important to learn from such accidents and adjust accordingly.
      ICE auto accidents have been examined, and crash tests (with ‘dummies’) have been done. A lot was learned. It is good to learn about such things before there are as many EVs on the road as pick-up trucks.
      But you knew this. Right?

  19. Local news shows them to be two beautiful and talented young men – what a tragedy. Read the Tesla handbook as recommended above- and found it rather frightening – the ‘high voltage’ components and the fire precautions- I had thought that one advantage of EVs is that you weren’t carrying your potential fry-up around with you, like gasoline.

    • Coeur de Lion
      Gasoline itself doesn’t burn, it’s the vapour that burns. In my experience, most car fires are caused by electrical faults (or deliberately) and it’s the materials (fabrics, paint, oil, plastics etc.) that burn, not the gasoline. I have attended burned out cars with the fuel tank intact and full.
      Gasoline is incredibly safe considering its qualities.

      • Dropping a lit match on a basin of gasoline in a rest state will likely just put out the match. (Please don’t try this at home, kids.) Being sloshed around and mixed with the air is when it’s a spark away from a fireball.

      • From the studies I’ve seen, the fire usually starts somewhere else, as the fire builds, the temperature in the gas tank increases until the tank is venting substantial amounts of vapor, which feeds the existing fire.

        • MarkW
          From the observations I have made, vehicle fires start at the front, in the engine bay.
          Gas tanks are usually at the opposite end, for very good reason, remote from fabric, paint and plastic.
          Gas tank restraints often melt, depositing it on the ground as far away from the fire as is possible. At worst, I have seen venting tanks burning fuel vapour off with little more than a flame a foot long, when the fuel cap melts or the filler is ruptured.
          Having said that, my experiences are of 30 years ago. We didn’t have plastic fuel tanks then, but we did have baffled steel tanks which are more dangerous when almost empty than when full. A plastic tank will melt and deposit gasoline on the ground where it burns off relatively safely, and can be extinguished safely. A nearly empty baffled tank is an explosion hazard as the ignited petrol vapour expands rapidly and has a restricted path to liberation.
          Witness almost any motor racing accident where there is fuel ignition. There is an immense, dramatic fireball when the fuel vapour is ignited, which subsides within a second or two, the rest is burning oil and plastic.

      • MarkW
        P. S.
        Of all the vehicle fires I attended, I have never seen a petrol tank that has exploded, baffles or otherwise.
        But then I didn’t work in Hollywood.
        🙂

  20. I had thought that one advantage of EVs is that you weren’t carrying your potential fry-up around with you, like gasoline.

    You aren’t. It’s more like a kg of incendiary bomb.

  21. Teenage Boys Killed In Car Crash

    Well, that is unprecedented.
    What were they doing in a car like that?
    Where were/are the parents/teachers/guardians.
    Arguably, one of the hazards of being rich.
    Intelligent & educated not so much
    Meanwhile, do you laugh or cry….

    Cruise control is a great convenience feature except when it catches fire. That’s exactly what could have happened to 15 million Fords

    Cracked engine mounts meant 6.7 million cars and trucks could have accelerated uncontrollably, so GM had to install a “restraining device” to keep the motor in position.

    In 1996 Ford had to replace ignition switches in nearly eight million cars because of a potential short circuit causing a fire in the steering column.

    GM announced that it was inspecting 5.8 million cars due to suspension issues in the late 1970s – the vital control arm that connected the back axle to the suspension could break free and cause the driver to lose control

    in 1972 Ford found a fault with its seat belts. The buckle proved troublesome for the Blue Oval, potentially detaching in a crash and making the belt redundant

    Toyota has had its fair share of recalls recently, but the worst came in 2009 when it had to contact 4.4 million owners about “unintended acceleration” problems. The floor mats on some models could cause the accelerator pedal to stick down. It cost the auto giant £747 million in settlement claims

    a recall from the 70s – GM said that small stones could get lodged in some of its car’s steering systems, making it difficult to turn the wheels.

    VW had to recall 3.7 million cars made over the previous 20 years because of one small screw. It could have worked loose and caused the windscreen wipers to fail.

    Honda may have had to recall a similar number of cars to VW back in 1995, but it was for a different and entirely more sobering reason – Honda’s seat belt supplier found a design flaw, meaning the latching buckle could crack and fail.

    General Motors was forced to recall 3.6 million trucks due to a problem with the mechanism for the tailgate. The cords holding the flap shut could snap, potentially injuring anyone who might have been standing or sitting on the fold-down boot door.

    Ford takes the top spot for the worst car recall ever by a grand margin. At the start of the 1980s it had to rush through a fix on its automatic models built over the previous decade, as a defect meant the gear selector could slip from park into reverse without warning

    didn’t affect the UK, but is perhaps the most famous case in the world. It surrounds the Ford Pinto of the 1970s and the placement of the fuel tank. By positioning it behind the rear axle and with a fuel-filler pipe that would explode in a rear-end collision, the consequences were horrific

    in 2001, Vauxhall recalled half a million Tigra and Corsa models after discovering weak seat rails could result in the front seats becoming loose in an accident

    In 2010, Ferrari issued a recall for the 458 Italia following a series of fires. The Italian manufacturer traced the problem to materials used in the construction of the wheel arch lining and heat shield and called owners back for remedial work. Later, in 2014, the 458 Italia and Spider were involved in a second recall amid fears someone could get stuck in the boot of the car

    Honda’s unflinching reliability reputation took a knock in 2010 – 170,000 Honda Jazz cars in the UK were recalled over potential electrical faults.

    In September 2014, certain Smart Fortwo models were recalled after it was discovered a short circuit in the electronic heater shut-off valve could result in a fire.

    small issue could have disastrous consequences, which is why Mercedes-Benz recalled 8,675 M-Class 4x4s in 2012 after someone discovered the floor mats could trap the accelerator pedal

    In 2013,
    Kia called in 25,000 cars in the UK for the replacement of a faulty brake light switch. The recall affected numerous models built between 2006 and 2011 and was part of a global recall involving 1.6 million Kia and Hyundai models.

    In 2013, nearly 3 million VW owners were contacted over concerns surrounding gearboxes and light fuses. The recall which extended to other brands within the Volkswagen Group affected 60,000 cars in the UK

    Vauxhall advised owners of Corsa, Corsavan and Adam models registered since February 2014 that their cars should not be driven prior to inspection. According to Vauxhall, certain cars were built using a steering system part “that does not meet Vauxhall’s specification”

    incendiary risks are a common recall problem, with an incorrectly-fitted battery cable cover causing 109,000 BMW 5 and 6 Series models in the UK to receive attention. The recall affected 1.3 million cars across the world

    In 2012, 235,000 MINI models needed rectifying because of a potential fire risk caused by defective electric water pumps.

    earlier this year, Mazda had to recall 42,000 Mazda 6s because of the Yellow Sac spider. Apparently the spider has a love of petrol (don’t we all) and became rather keen on weaving webs inside the Mazda engine. This would result in blockages and, in turn, increase the risk of a fire.

    Porsche issued a recall for 2011-2012 Cayenne models amid fears “the headlamp may come loose” and detach from the bumper

    earlier this year Honda was forced to bring 1.8 million cars built between 2001 and 2003 back to its dealerships. Once again, it was the airbag issue affecting a number of carmakers, with Honda saying small amounts of metal fragments could hit the windscreen or footwell as a result of an inflated airbag.

    May 2013, Nissan was forced to issue repair work on 841,000 vehicles worldwide due to a faulty steering wheel. The problem affected nearly 134,000 Nissan Micras in the UK and came on the back of 500,000 vehicles recalled because of faulty airbags

    Proving you don’t need to be active to be affected by a recall, General Motors recalled nearly 29,000 Saab 9-3 Convertibles in the US to replace a driver’s side seatbelt retractor. So far, the issue hasn’t affected cars in the UK

    In July, BMW announced it would fix 1.6 million 3 Series cars built between 2000 and 2006 in order to address an airbag problem that affected many carmaker

    in April 2014 Toyota was forced to recall more than 6.5 million motors to fix problems including faulty steering wheels and seats.

    a terrible year for General Motors, with millions upon millions of cars recalled across the world. In total, more than 20 million vehicles have been affected in 2014 alone, with a faulty ignition switch the chief headache

    If it can happen to a mass-production carmaker, it can happen to a luxury brand, too. Earlier this year, Aston Martin recalled 17,590 cars due to a potential problem with the accelerator pedal.

    A total of 8,145 new Mercedes-Benz C-Classes have been recalled in the UK, of which 5,500 have already been delivered to customers. The issue – which affects cars built between January and September 2014 – surrounds a faulty steering system

    Earlier
    this month, Toyota announced it would be recalling 1.67 million cars amid concerns over faulty brake installations and fuel component issues. Sister company Lexus announced it’s recalling 759,000 cars across the world after discovering a fault with the fuel pipes

    Another recall involving VW: the firm carried out remedial work on thousands of e-Golfs in the US after it emerged that their electric motors could switch off during use

    VW Group recalled around 800,000 of its Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche
    Cayenne models worldwide over a brake issue

    In 2016, Toyota announced it would recall 2.87m cars worldwide over a fault with a seatbelt that could fail in the event of a crash

    In 2015, Suzuki recalled its Celerio after just a day on sale, when a journalist for Autocar magazine experienced complete brake failure while attempting an emergency stop during tests

    • So, has Elon got a problem…….. that wouldn’t be fixed by the judicious use of something like asbestos?
      Get my point?
      Please try not to be like Warmists and become paranoid – try to escape the Magical Thought Bubble.
      There is a Big Old World out there, don’t let it pass you by.

    • “The floor mats on some models could cause the accelerator pedal to stick down”
      It was almost certainly a software issue, the car maker probably invented a faulty mechanical issue to limit criticism.

      • Nope. Happened to me, long before the warning came out. I took my foot off the gas and the car didn’t slow as expected. I realized the mat was partly between my heal and the pedal, reached down, grabbed the mat, and tossed to the back seat. No harm done. Blamed myself for not making sure the mat was staying in its proper position.
        The mat had a couple of little eyelets that fit over nubs on the floor to keep it in place. Over time, the mat curled up at the edges, lifting the eyelets over the nubs. Then it was free to slide.
        Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  22. Tesla’s first lesson in automobile manufacturing – People hire lawyers who always go after the bigger wallet, not the true reason or persons at fault…always.

  23. Seems to me that the Tesla is becoming the heir apparent to the pyromaniac Ford Crown Victoria of 15-20 years ago. That model had the nasty habit of burning spectacularly when rear ended in what otherwise might have been a minor incident. The Crown Vic was heavily marketed to police departments and over a dozen officers were killed and many more burned badly in what should have been survivable accidents. The grim joke of the day was that the Vic was not a police interceptor, it was a police incinerator. Obviously the civilian version had more than its share of tragedy as well. In one incident I am personally familiar with, a Phoenix PD Crown Vic and a Phoenix City fire engine by pure chance happened to be waiting at a stop light side by side when the police car was rear ended and burst into flame. A quick thinking fireman grabbed a CO2 extinguisher and knocked down the flames enough for the officer to escape the vehicle unharmed.
    I’m no fan of Tesla or Musk, but they are attempting to push the limits of a new transportation technology, and that is never painless.

    • I know it’s off topic, but seeing Elon’s pre-launch address for today’s launch, I couldn’t help but think he should let the rocket team do the car!!
      I hope this latest mod for the Falcon goes well, as it is the baseline for the future of sustained and frequent launches for the U.S. and other countries.
      Countdown close, so “Out”
      Gums sends…

  24. In a petrol/gasoline tank some of the energy is contained in the fuel and some of it in the air. Put the two together and it explodes. On a good day this happens in the engine.
    In a battery or for that matter a super capacitor all the energy is in one place in close proximity, usually very close.
    Murphy will always find a way. If it can go wrong it will.
    I’m more than happy for those who consider themselves green to use lithium-based energy for their transport for the farce (of global warming) is strong in them.
    It’s potentially self-solving problem.
    As for me, I’m sticking with petrol/gasoline because as I drive I’m fertilising the plants which is good for the planet.

  25. So will Teslas be joining propane powered vehicles in being banned from underground parking garages? I shudder to imagine the havoc that would be created if one caught fire in an underground lot. How would the FD deal with it, and would the building have to be evacuated until the fire was out (a day or so) and the resulting toxic fumes vented?

  26. I’m surprised nobody mentioned the Dreamliner and the patience of the US regulator for issues regarding Boeing…

  27. My 2¢ as a volunteer fireman on a small rural department; I’m very glad for the discussions, which contain far more information and analysis than the original articles. Very little is ‘off topic’ as it is a big important wide ranging discussion touching many issues. I dread the day we have to deal with something like this, as I dread the day we have a semi-trailer of cyanide compound pellets catch fire. If someone sprays water on that it would release cyanide gas and kill anyone downwind. Or a hybrid vehicle with a 600 volt battery and not being sure where to cut to extract a victim. With my limited experience (and only involving internal combustion vehicles), I’ll make a few points. It’s almost always better to have your seat belt on and be restrained within the vehicle in a collision. Being ejected, or half ejected and having the vehicle roll on you never ends well. In several cases a person had their arm trapped between the roof of the upside-down vehicle and the ground of the ditch. Wearing their seat belt kept the rest of them inside and none of them suffered a serious injury to the arm, although they were very excited until we got them untrapped. High energy frontal collisions result in death, seat belt or no. I don’t mean two cars or a car vs a pickup having a head-on collision at highway speeds, I mean a small vehicle hitting a bus, where everyone in the full car dies and no one on the bus suffers a serious injury, or a car hitting a culvert. I’m not talking statistics, just personal experience here. I’ve been to many vehicle collisions and many vehicle fires but I can’t remember any overlap as a fireman, although there was such a case involving some classmates in high school and another involving a relative. The fires have involved vehicles parked, parked and running or driving down the road, always from either an electrical short or friction. Given all the hazards in a burning vehicle such as exploding struts, shocks, axles, airbags, tires and extreme heat and toxic smokes, fuel explosions have never been a major worry. A fuel spill waiting for a spark is always a concern, but we’ve been fortunate. I was not at the incident, but we did have a fuel tanker overturn when misjudging an approach to a gas station once. Having a leak in your boots was not a good idea that day.

  28. This not very informative as to what was burning. Is it hydrogen? Plus plastic battery cases for fuel? Can design changes fix it? Perhaps an emergency “lever” to open windows or some other exit? Or a system to quench the fire?

  29. Tesla – beautiful dual purpose car, you can drive it for while and when you become bored you can cremate yourself without any problem.

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