When a BMW catches fire, does it go straight to news? Does it cost BMW $600 million every time this happens? Obviously not, as BMW still exists. It shouldn’t have had the same effect on Tesla either. The fact is people are skittish around all-electric cars these days, because of the issues that plagued Fisker, the issues that plagued the Chevrolet Volt and the issues that have plagued nearly every other electric car since Chevrolet’s EV-1. These cars, specifically the beautiful, short-lived, Fisker, had a really bad habit of lighting on fire in plain view of the public (Justin Bieber’s being the exception, instead of lighting on fire with him in it, his buddy wrecked it).
Something to keep in mind about Tesla though, is that a huge portion of their R&D dollars go into securing and maintaining the batteries they use to make them safe for automotive (and aeronautical) applications. From what anyone has seen or heard, this is the first Tesla to have such a malfunction meaning someone was actually broke a Tesla. This should give Tesla an opportunity to poke holes in its system to figure out what exactly happened so they can focus on building better, safer ways for cars to transport batteries. Tesla is not only the manufacturer with the very best electric-vehicle manufacturer, they are also the pioneers in stabilizing and harnessing the power of very specific types of battery technology.
Think of this too: Tesla plans on delivering somewhere around 10,000 vehicles this year. As of the beginning of August they had delivered over 5,000 of those. Having 1 fire per thousand sold is astounding. Ferrari only wishes they could reproduce that kind of consistency.
Compared to its internal combustion friends elsewhere, this new technology is far less dangerous to drive with. Don’t believe me? Hand the closest 12-year old a cup of gasoline, a lithium-ion battery and a lighter and see which makes you nervous first; lighter to gasoline or lighter to battery. The fact is, gasoline isn’t particularly stable and takes very, very little energy for it to combust. Gasoline doesn’t just burn easily, but it also burns very hot and burns very quickly. Having trouble lightning snow on fire? Toss some gasoline on there and watch it burn.
The point is, instead of looking at this first fire as a horrible thing, look at it as a chance for Tesla to improve their already amazing record. The fact is, this was the first Tesla to light on fire, but it almost certainly wasn’t the last. People will find amazing ways to accidentally light something on fire. Getting skittish over one car fire is frankly, silly. Tesla will keep on keeping, and continue to innovate, pioneer and revolutionize the way we look at the automobile industry.