Tesla Fires: German Safety Body Clears Model S Of Any Design Flaws, Defects

The Tesla Model S is safe, and it’s design isn’t to blame for three fires which took place this past autumn involving the luxury sedan.

European Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S is safe, says German Authorities

That’s the opinion of the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt — the German Federal Motor Transport Authority — which has just carried out a full safety analysis of the Tesla Model S following three incidents in which Model S cars caught fire after accidents.

In an official statement made yesterday, the German safety organisation — which has similar powers to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — cleared the Model S of any design flaws or fault in the three incidents. It reads as follows (translated from the original German for English-language readers):

“According to the documents[provided by Tesla to the Kraftahrt-Bundesamt], no manufacturer-related defects [herstellerseitiger Mangel] could be found. Therefore, no further measures under the German Product Safety Act [Produktsicherheitsgesetz (ProdSG)] are deemed necessary.”

Two of the fires, one in Washington state and one in Tennessee, started after Model S sedans hit metallic debris while travelling at speed on a freeway. In both cases, the metallic debris punctured the underside of the Model S’ battery pack, causing an electrical short and ultimately starting a fire. In both cases, the drivers were instructed by the cars to pull over to the side of the road and had time to exit the vehicle safely, before the fire began. No-one was hurt, and the fire was safely confined to the area surrounding the puncture site. 

In the third case, a Tesla Model S being driven in Mexico by a drunk driver caught fire after the driver lost control, drove over the centre of a roundabout, flew threw the air and collided with a tree. No-one was injured.

After the third fire involving Tesla Model S, the NHTSA launched a formal investigation into the accidents, working alongside Tesla to examine the vehicles and determine if a safety recall was needed. At the same time, the German Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt contacted Tesla to carry out its own investigation.

Tesla Model S Charge Port Door -- U.S. Spec

Tesla Model S Charge Port Door — U.S. Spec

While Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA] has given the NHTSA and the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt its full corporation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gone on record saying that not only does he believe there is no design flaw with the Model S, but that it is the safest car on the road today. 

In fact, aside from co-operating with the relevant safety authorities seeking to investigate the fires, Tesla’s only action since has been to raise the minimum height of the Active Air Suspension system fitted as an optional extra to some Model S cars, and extend its Model S warranty to cover fire damage. The former was described by Musk as a way to “reduce the chances of underbody impact damage, not improve safety,” while the latter was to “eliminate any concern about the cost” in the unlikely event that a Model S would be victim of  fire damage and to ensure that “the Model S has the lowest insurance cost of any car at our price point.”

We’re glad to see Tesla exonerated of any fault by the extremely proactive German authorities, and hope the NHTSA reach a similar conclusion.

Has the verdict of the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt changed your opinion of Model S safety? Or like many, have you never doubted its design? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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