Tesla Model S Fire Aftermath

Tesla Model S Fire Aftermath

Updated July 15,2014

Due to the continued questions of safety surrounding the five fires with the American manufactured  Tesla Model S, it seemed time to address the ultimate measures of safety. Life, and Injury. For this we start with the data

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 152,300 automobile fires per year in the 2006-2010 time period. These fires caused an average of 209 civilian deaths, 764 civilian injuries, and $536 million in direct property damage.


Facts and Figures

  • Automobile fires were involved in 10% of reported U.S. fires, 6% of U.S. fire deaths.
  • On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour. These fires killed an average of four people every week.
  • Mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in roughly two-thirds of the automobile fires.
  • Collisions and overturns were factors in only 4% of highway vehicle fires, but these incidents accounted for three of every five (60%) automobile fire deaths.
  • Only 2%of automobile fires began in fuel tanks or fuel lines, but these incidents caused 15% of the automobile fire deaths.
  • Although collisions or overturns were factors in only 3% of the fires, 58% of the deaths resulted from these incidents. Older vehicles were more likely to have a fire caused by mechanical or electrical failures.
  • According to the U.S Federal Highway Administration data, roughly 2,980 billion miles were driven, on average, per year on U.S. roads during this period. Roughly 90 highway vehicle fires and 0.15 highway vehicle fire deaths were reported per billion miles driven.
Source: NFPA's "Automobile Fires in the U.S.: 2006-2010 Estimates" report by Marty Ahrens, September 2012.

The billion electric mile mark comparison (updated February 2014)

The 50,000+ Chevrolet Volts now have over 390,000,000+ electric miles and 625,000,000+ total miles driven, the 100,000+ Nissan LEAFs now have over 420,000,000+ electric miles driven, and the 30,000+ Tesla Model S sedans have over 125,000,000+ miles driven.  With the remaining  Ford Energi series, Toyota PiP  and other combined plug-in models, we are well over one billion electric miles driven.

Fisker Fire

Fisker Fire

With these new so-called experimental vehicles, we have nowhere near the 90 vehicle fires per billion miles caused in ICEs,  no deaths,  and nowhere near the fire related injuries.

Of those 4 brands with the most miles driven; the Chevrolet Volt recorded the first famous fire when  obliterated by the NHSTA in a parking lot due to a failure to discharge the battery after crash testing. This would be equal to leaving gas in the tank of a crashed vehicle which NHSTA NEVER does so  we count this one with an asterisk. Of the billion combined miles of the LEAF, Volt, and Ford Energi series, no fires have broken out for customers while parked, driving, charging or collisions of  these plug-ins.

As for the five Model S fires in question, the true cause of one is still under investigation, but with well over 125,000,000 Tesla miles, we would still need 11 Tesla fires to equal the fires of the tried and true Internal Combustion Engine.

One should always strive for complete safety, but does the data not speak for itself when it comes to which type vehicle is the safest?  As for the question of deaths, the Model S received it's first fatality with a stolen Model S that was ripped in half at the end of a high speed police chase in July 2014. The victim was thrown from the vehicle and later died from the injuries suffered in the collision. 

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@insideevs.com