To say that electric vehicles are safer than their internal combustion counterparts may technically be statistically accurate but recent events with Tesla’s Model S have shown that the risks involved with driving these cars are different, not non-existent. These concerns follow a series of Model S incidents involving fires and the overheating of garage charging units.
Punctured Batteries and Road Debris
Though they don’t have a large tank of flammable fuel on board, they do have several rows of lithium-ion batteries that line the undercarriage of the vehicle. These batteries are protected by a 6mm armor plate that runs underneath the car but in separate situations this armor plate has been punctured by metallic road debris, causing the ruptured batteries to burst into flames. No one was harmed in any of these accidents likely due to the fact that the Model S alerted the drivers of a battery issue, which gave the operator a chance to pull off the road and exit the vehicle.
In any situation where you operate a vehicle at high speeds on roads or highways you run the risk of potential hazard. Physics will not differentiate whether you drive an electric or gas-powered vehicle. The same forces of nature are at work regardless of your vehicle choice and if you drive dangerously or uncaringly, you may end up harming yourself or the people around you. Just think what would have happened in a situation like this if the road debris had punctured a gas tank.
Home Garage Chargers
Another problem moving up the ranks is reports of the overheating of Model S owner’s home chargers. One of these cases involved a garage catching fire in Irvine, California while the owner was charging their Model S. It is still unclear whether this garage fire was cause by a faulty charger or by incorrect wiring in the home.
Regardless of where the blame lays, Tesla has taken steps to remedy this overheating problem by issuing software updates and chargers containing a thermal fuse, which would cut power in the event of high temperatures. This fix was initially declared a formal recall but Tesla officials have said calling it a “recall” is an unfitting term because the owners are not required to bring their vehicles in for service.