Tesla CEO: Definitely Won’t Be A Recall Of The Tesla Model S

4 years ago by Jay Cole 18

CNBC Tweets According To "Sources" No Recall Yet Being Considered By Tesla On Model S

CNBC Tweeted First That Tesla Was Not Considering A Recall

Recent Tesla Model S Fire In Tennessee

Recent Tesla Model S Fire In Tennessee

After a recent accident that saw a Tesla Model S ignite after running over a tow hitch (which impaled the bottom of the car and damaged the vehicle’s 85 kWh battery), there had been some speculation if Tesla was considering a voluntary recall to install additional battery protection for current Model S owners.

Voluntary recalls due to media scrutiny are not without precedence in the plug-in segment.

In January of 2012, after a Chevrolet Volt caught fire at a NHSTA testing facility three weeks after being crashed by the agency, General Motors decided to issue a “safety enhancement” for those owners who might be concerned an electric vehicle fire.

NHSTA Volt Fire (click to enlarge)

NHSTA Volt Fire (click to enlarge)

At the time Mary Barra, GM’s senior VP of global product development, stressed this enhancement was not at the behest of the NHSTA,but that GM was “choosing to go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind.”  No Chevrolet Volt has since caught fire.

 

Today however, CNBC first reported (via twitter) that at least for now, Tesla is not considering any such action:

“Source tells #CNBC that there has been no discussion of a Tesla Model S recall. • $TSLA shares down 5% today”

Elon Musk "Definitely" No Tesla Model S Recall Coming

Elon Musk “Definitely” No Tesla Model S Recall Coming

Then later in the day Tesla CEO Elon Musk hit the airwaves in person saying that there “definitely won’t be a recall.”

At the New York Times DealBook conference Musk said that, “We’re about five times less likely to have a fire than an average gasoline car.”  The CEO also said that public reaction to the fires reported by some media outlets was “extremely inaccurate and unreasonable.”

Previous to the current fire, a previous incident of the Model S catching fire after striking some road debris in October was cleared by the NHSTA; although it should be noted that at the time of the accident that the agency was not operational due to a US government shutdown.

 

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18 responses to "Tesla CEO: Definitely Won’t Be A Recall Of The Tesla Model S"

  1. Sevie says:

    Man, Elon really needs to just sit back and let things run their course. Speculation about the cause of the fires and whether the car is “safe” isn’t going to be put to rest by a bold decree from a CEO. Rather, I wouldn’t be surprised if his comments are like pouring gas–or lithium 😉 –on the fire!

  2. scott moore says:

    I think the car simply thought it was one of Elon’s rockets…

    Sorry just had to…

  3. scottf200 says:

    His comments do not preclude this tho (ie. something like GM did): “safety enhancement” for those owners who might be concerned an electric vehicle fire.

  4. Anon says:

    Strikeplate addons could even be provided by third parties, should there be demand for it…

  5. Grady says:

    I’ve been wondering, since the battery can be easily swapped, if the car could actually eject the battery safely to allow the battery to burn up if it wants but not necessarily ruin the car? It seems like a shame to burn up an entire car just because the removable battery is compromised, particularly if the battery is so easily removed.

    This is a bunch of negative press, and parts of it are overblown. But, honestly, I think that everyone is a little bummed to realized how “easy” it is to cause catastrophic damage to the battery. You get the sinking feeling at this point that we’re about 4 weeks from another burned car. And then we’re going to have other weird causes. Like, the first person to shoot a Tesla with a gun for whatever reason (likely a hunting accident in Tennessee).

    The Mythbusters did a whole episode on gas tank myths a while back. And it was actually pretty hard to cause a cascading/explosive event in a gas tank. For instance, no amount of bullets fired into a gas tank will even cause ignition (including firing tracer rounds). Now, for sure, gas cars burn up all the time so it’s certainly possible to do. But it’s hard to do it. Gasoline, as far as things like this go, is a fairly stable fuel.

    It feels like the same experiment with a Tesla would be a single bullet would cause catastrophic failure resulting in a burned up car. Again, shooting a gas car, it’s nearly impossible to start a fire.

    http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/shooting-gas-tank.htm

    1. It is difficult bit not impossible. A bullet is lead and doesn’t cause sparks easily. Puncture the gas tank with a piece of steel causing a leak and then drag the steel down the road and see what happens.

      The biggest problem that I see is that the area of the battery is huge compared to a gas tank. It is also inline with the front tires. This makes it more vulnerable than your typical ICE car.

      My recommendation is don’t run over anything that won’t slide underneath without contact.

      1. Grady says:

        That gets to the heart of why this issue resonates with so many people. Not that you’re likely to run over something…but if you do, your car is likely to suffer a battery failure that burns up your car.

        On the plus side, you’re very likely live through it. On the down side, your fancy car is ruined.

        It is true that gas cars catch fire and that gas is a dangerous fuel. But it seems that an easily punctured battery is not any better than an easily punctured gas tank.

        The other safety features of a Tesla seem to be unrelated to it’s battery — although the size/placement of the electric motor is better/safer than a gas engine. A Tesla is safe because the passenger compartment was really well designed. Similarly, a gasoline car could implement many of those features — like keeping fire out of the passenger compartment or keeping people from getting crushed in a crash.

        A recall likely isn’t possible in the near term. But the shielding on the battery needs to be improved to make it harder to cause catastrophic damage. Or, at the very least, they need to figure out how to keep the whole car from burning up because of the battery.

        About the bullet stuff: gas just isn’t as dangerous as many people believe. You also can’t light gas with a cigarette like you see in the movies. There’s a million reasons that gasoline is a terrible way to fuel a car (I drive an electric car myself). But gas isn’t super dangerous as far as combustible fuels go.

        In the end, this isn’t a gas vs. battery issues. It’s an issue where Tesla’s Model S cars seem to have an Achilles heel — and that’s a big bummer. A percentage of Model S drivers are going to run over something large, at highway speeds, and their car is going to burn up — that’s disappointing to know.

  6. Taser54 says:

    Media, is proving to be the magnifying glass to Tesla’s ant. Every little post (even those trying to defend Tesla) actually puts more public glare on Tesla.

    1. Anon says:

      Completely disagree! The more people realize how complacent they’ve been concerning over 100 years of gasoline vehicle fires / explosions / deaths, the more rational people can make informed purchasing decisions. FUD campaigns CAN be neutralized with facts / data.

      People who fear vehicles fires, should just ride unassisted bicycles… :p

  7. JohnM says:

    It is sad that this car is still defended by “how many gas cars burned every year” mentality. The solid truth is that the battery safety was compromised by putting it underneath. I once bought an old car that was ok until I checked underneath: a bent on the gas tank. Objects will always hit the car from under. There is no exception. It would have been an easy test to simply hit the battery pack armor with a sledge hammer or machete and they would right away see the problem. Now, after three burns, what is the chance that there will be another one,and another one, and ….? Do the math….

    1. Anon says:

      Just how many machetes or sledge hammers are on the road for you to hit? You realize that there is NO WARNING when your gasoline car will explode if there is a problem? And the data clearly shows gasoline cars are far mire prone to burning. So there is nothing sad about how well the Model S protects its passengers and driver after the vehicle becomes damaged after a collision. Your fact less fear mongering helps no one. I suppose you also willfully choose also ignore data that supports evolution and climate change?

  8. Stuart22 says:

    Fine, Elon, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

    Once insurance companies respond by jacking up their rates, he might reconsider a fix.

  9. Anon says:

    But the morbidity and mortality reports used by insurance companies still say gasoline cars are less safe and more likely to kill their occupants than any model Tesla.

    1. philba says:

      true dat. fire is just one factor. overall the car is still the safest one on the road.

  10. philba says:

    The Model S does have a vulnerability. Is it worth a recall? I don’t know. The fact is that to date there hasn’t been an injury or death attributed to a Model S fire. This could change but I firmly believe that the rate of injury and death will be strikingly lower than the average, if not better than all vehicle models.

    Some people complain that “lower fire hazard than ICE vehicles” is a cop out. That doesn’t change the fact that ICE vehicles are inherently dangerous no matter how good the fuel tank and delivery system is protected. In addition, the Model S protects it’s occupants to the point where they walk away from crashes where they would have been incapacitated in another car. This by itself means a lower rate of death by fire even if the fire risk is the same as ICE vehicles.

    Personally, I would like to see Elon do something pro-active. Maybe issue a firmware upgrade to allow people to increase the cruising height of the car.

    1. Aaron says:

      The ride heights for the air suspension can be manually controlled. The settings are:

      Very High
      High
      Standard
      Low

      The reason the car lowers itself at high speeds is to reduce aerodynamic drag, effectively increasing range.

      1. philba says:

        Yes, I’m quite aware of that, owning a Model S. However, you seem to be implying that you can control the cruise height – you can’t. I’m suggesting they allow user control over that. The trade off is efficiency vs safety. I’d accept a small loss of highway efficiency.