Stolen Tesla Model S Crashes, Burns in Hollywood: Some Perspective, and Decorum, Please

It’s every car owner’s worse nightmare: their prized ride gets stolen, before leading law enforcement officers on a deadly high-speed chase. It gets worse if the high-speed chase ends in a multiple-car crash involving innocent bystanders.

For one Tesla Model S owner, that nightmare has come true after their prized Tesla Model S, stolen and driven at high-speed through west Hollywood, ended its life as a fiery ball, split in two by the force of its final impact, for the world to see. The occupants of the Tesla, along with some of those in the other cars the speeding electric car hit, are in critical condition in hospital.

As you might expect, news outlets around the world have already resuscitated the suspicious Tesla fireball Internet Meme, calling into question again the safety of electric cars and the Silicon-Valley-built Model S in particular.

But as NBC Los Angeles reports, much like those last year when a speeding Tesla Model S flew through the air in Mexico City before busting into flames after hitting a concrete bollard, the circumstances surrounding this terrible tragedy aren’t the kind of things any automaker can prepare for.

It was far from ordinary. Far from normal.

Reports from the scene cite the Tesla as travelling at more than 100 mph when it hit into a Honda carrying five passengers. The force of the impact hospitalised three of the Honda’s passengers — two seriously and one critically — while the Tesla itself carried on its rampage of destruction.

Then, in a flashback to last year’s Mexican Model S crash, the stolen Model S became airborne, hit a light pole and split in two, its rear quarter embedding into the wall of the West Hollywood Central Synagogue.

The rest of the car, which presumably landed on the ground after being torn in two, caught fire as the battery pack appears to have suffered a massive internal short. Like a petrol tank ruptured on impact in a high-speed crash involving a gasoline car, the immense energy of the impact and ruptured battery pack started the inevitable fire.

Over the coming few days, we can expect more from the ‘Teslas aren’t safe’ Internet meme, but here at Transport Evolved, we’d like to offer some clarity, and objectivity on the situation.

Any car travelling at the speeds suggested in initial reports, regardless of its fuel type, would have surely suffered similar consequences, while vehicular fires after high-speed pursuits are expected of any high-performance sports sedan.

Any car travelling through the air after impacting another vehicle at such high speed would likely self-destruct on landing. In fact, positioned correctly, it’s conceivable a gasoline car hitting a light pole at speed would instantaneously become a projectile fireball as the fuel tank ruptures onto hot a hot exhaust, brake discs and fast-running engine.

Tesla hasn’t released an official statement about the accident yet, and as far as we can tell neither has the LAPD — but we’d expect both to offer some form of official statement later on today.

As for the safety of the Model S? Here at Transport Evolved we think the horrifying carnage — through which the Model S’ shape is still clearly visible — shows just how strong the Tesla Model S really is. In fact, we’re struggling to think of any other cars which would be that instantly recognisable after such a terrible ordeal.

Which leaves us one sad task. To ask that the families of those injured in the accident — regardless of which car they were driving — be given the space and love that they need to get them through this difficult and terrible ordeal.

On behalf of Transport Evolved’s editorial team and our readers, we’d like to say our thoughts are with the families of those involved.

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