UPDATE: Tesla Model S Catches Fire, Burns To Nothing While Supercharging In Norway

JAN 1 2016 BY JAY COLE 115

For probably the first time, we have an unfortunate report of a Tesla Model S burning down while being charged at a Supercharger station in Norway today.

Tesla Model S Burns AT Norway Charging Station (via FNV.no)

Model S Burns At Norway Tesla Supercharging Station (via FNV.no, as well as more pictures here)

The investigation of the fire at the Brokelandshiea station in Gjerstand is ongoing now, but early reports have confirmed that there was no injuries in relation to the blaze.

*UPDATE: Video of the Tesla Model S burning embedded below

According to Jon Kvitne speaking on behalf of the Agder police, the Model S owner had left his car and engaged the charge, and the fire was noticed at some point later.

The Fire Department chose to let the blaze run its course.

Tesla has made an early statement on the incident (via Jalopnik)

“Nobody was harmed. We are undergoing a full investigation and will share our findings as soon as possible.”

Again, we would like to stress ourselves that no specific cause of the fire has yet been determined.

That Brokelandsheia Supercharging station itself is now out of service, with Model S owners instructed to use the next closest quick charging station in Skien (Telemark) or Bygland.

NRK.no, FVN.no, Hat tip to Aslak and Daniel P!

Categories: Charging, Tesla

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115 Comments on "UPDATE: Tesla Model S Catches Fire, Burns To Nothing While Supercharging In Norway"

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That’s bad news.

With all the Hoverboard fires during the holidays on the news, the 99% of the driving public that still drive ICE vehicles might get a false impression after seeing this Tesla fire reported on the news that EVs catch on fire “just like” or “as often as” those crappy Hoverboards.

REALLY SUSPICIOUS…What’s @ the very Front of that car That would start 0n Fire?? 0r was it Deliberately Set By A Passerby Perhaps???

So in Norway you think there is some anti-EV nut lurking in the bushes just waiting for a Tesla owner to walk away so he can light a car on fire?

Your guess is as Good As Anyone’s Guess…What do U think??? Is This Totally 0ut of the Question ? But if It was deliberately Set, There would be a reason for it. People sometimes Do Crazy Things!

Yep,… like Putting random Capitals in things they Are writing. MW

IsN’t tHe neaRest CapItal oslo?

Nope. It’s where the pack was designed to vent fire, away from passenger compartment. No conspiracy, return your foil hat to its folded position.

Is it 31 the number of ICE cars catching fire every hour in the US?

This will probably get a lot of attention just like when 1 Volt caught on fire after being in an accident. However gas cars can go up in flames and get no attention. It is normal for gas cars to go up in flames to where it is a part in a lot of movies.

True, but Teslas are far fewer, and much newer, than the ICE population. One must look at probabilities. For example, before the titanium heat shield was added, Teslas were 10x more likely to catch fire in a collision as the average car.

Ummm, you don’t have to be a math genius to know that 1 incident does not at all give any statistical relevancy. And definitely not enough to start comparing to other statistics or saying something as silly as “10x more likely” than some other thing.

“Three Electrics” continued his desperate anti-Tesla FUD campaign: “…before the titanium heat shield was added, Teslas were 10x more likely to catch fire in a collision as the average car.” ROTFL! 😀 😀 😀 Notice how merely twisting the truth isn’t good enough for Tesla bashers like “Three Oil Companies”; they’re so desperate to find something, anything bad to say about Tesla that they have to make up wholesale lies. Poor things! Reality check: Even when there were three Tesla Model S battery fires resulting from collision with road debris, before Tesla installed the “titanium shield”, the average rate of car fires in a Model S were about 1/3 the normal rate of fires in gasmobiles. Also, more importantly, no one was injured in those fires. BEV battery pack fires are slow to start, and the Model S gives the driver clear warning to get out of the car, several minutes — not mere moments, but minutes — before remaining in the car becomes dangerous. Sadly for future action film makers, the not terribly urgent need to exit a BEV with an overheating battery after a crash isn’t nearly as exciting or dramatic as the potential for a gasmobile catching… Read more »

Note that I specifically said, “fires resulting from collisions.” For car fires in general, the Tesla does better than average, being a newer car with no oil or gasoline.

Here’s the math, in case anyone is interested.

From [1] we find that the total number of highway fires resulting from collisions is 6092 per year. There are 253 million U.S. cars and light trucks, for a rate of one out of 41529 per year.

There were three Model S collision fires before the titanium shield was added, the latest on November 6, 2013 [2].

As of November 2013, there were roughly 25,000 Model Ss on the road [3]. However, because of the steep production ramp, only half of those cars had driven the entire year, roughly, making it effectively 12,500.

12,500 / 3 = a rate of one out of every 4166, or 10x the rate of the general automobile population. This is why Tesla was investigated and copped a plea with the NHTSA.

[1] http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/vehicles

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicle_fire_incidents#Tesla_Model_S

[3] http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/09/global-sales-tesla-model-s-surpass-25000-2013/

3 stats are very few, when one was a result of a tri-ball hitch lying in the middle of the road.


That’s all we have to go on; after the federales opened their investigation, Tesla reprogrammed the suspensions of all cars so they didn’t ride so low. That was part of the problem: if you’re one of the lowest and heaviest cars on the road, you’re going to catch things that almost other cars will not.

“As of November 2013, there were roughly 25,000 Model Ss on the road [3]. However, because of the steep production ramp, only half of those cars had driven the entire year, roughly, making it effectively 12,500.”
Nice way to justify your spin, but a better method would be by tracking miles as the link you provided actually does, opposed to your own “I’ll divide by two because I want to”. The link shows 90 fires per billion miles with 30/billion miles due to collisions. At the time Tesla had 3 fires, they were slightly higher than ICEs for about a month, and then less than ICEs again. 10x only happens in your wishful math. Also shifting to include the 3 collisions when this is a stationery fire is worse spin still.
Tesla Motors is pushing the envelope with faster charging than anyone else. They solved their collision problem in a matter of months while the ICE continues to rack up 90 fires per billion miles after a 100 years of production. With thousands of superchargers, now on multiple continents, with multiple electrical standards, it is pretty impressive that billions of miles have passed and this is the first in three years.

Three Oil Companies Three Electrics wrote:

“12,500 / 3 = a rate of one out of every 4166, or 10x the rate of the general automobile population.”

Even if your figures are accurate, which would be surprising given your history of anti-Tesla FUD, at best it’s still cherry-picking a figure from a very low sample size. Any statistician will tell you that 3 is much too low a figure to be statistically meaningful.

I also note you’re ignoring the question of how many people were injured in those fires. For the Model S, the death-or-injury rate for fires following a collision is zero. Zero, as in nobody was hurt. Of course that’s also a low sample size, but it’s still an “inconvenient fact” for your Tesla-bashing campaign.

so endlessly, pitifully sad..

soo.. would it be acceptable for me to begin referring to you as Poothetic?

I’m thinking that would be as helpful to new readers as yours, yes?

Riiiight… you do know, *don’t you* just how many ICEVs catch fire in crashes every year? Or even how many of those incinerate their unfortunate trapped/unconscious occupants? No? Perhaps you should google it! MW

“For example, before the titanium heat shield was added, Teslas were 10x more likely to catch fire in a collision as the average car.” This is incorrect on many levels. First of all the number is incorrect. Even if you go by the conclusion of the article that did that calculation, it is 5x not 10x: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/521916/update-early-data-suggests-collision-caused-fires-are-more-frequent-in-the-tesla-model-s/ The other thing is that article assumed a debris hit would be counted as a “collision” in those reports. However, the most fatal flaw is that the numbers conflate the probability of a “collision” and probability of a fire after a “collision” and overall probability of fires unrelated to collisions. What you can say is perhaps “more likely be involved in both a fire and a collision as the average car”. However the numbers presented say nothing about the probability of fire after a collision, as none of them examined #fire in a collision/#collisions. That data would be hard to gather as you would need to have people report all debris hits as collisions. Anyways it’s largely irrelevant to this fire given this is not a collision related fire and it has been more than two years since the numbers gathered for that… Read more »

I am curious – when do these brand new gasoline powered cars burst into flames on their own?

The Chevy CRUZE ICE Car Did this Numerous times & people “DIED”…GM Cheaped Out & Knowingly Installed Sub-Par Ignition Switches That Shorted 0ut At any given time Weather In Motion Or Parked & in the 0ff Position too .. Remember that ? It was only a Few Yrs Ago..GM got Sued Lost, got Fined & Paid the consequences. The Tragic Loss of Life Was all too Real! REMEMBER THAT??

Oh no!! Random-capitals-in-the-middle-of-sentences disease is infectious! MW

It is not just random capitals, also using a zero for a capital O.

It has not yet been determined if the fire started “on it’s own”.

Let’s wait for details before we start placing blame.

Best conclusion Yet! Too Much speculation ,,& That Includes Me Too…I Shut My mouth!

There are over 5,000 gas station fires per year that NFPA fire departments responded to in the US.

But unlike gas fires that explode tanks, and the fire that runs where the fuel goes, EV fires tend to contained within the one vehicle.

Zim asked:

“I am curious – when do these brand new gasoline powered cars burst into flames on their own?”

Lots of them every single day. Car fires are more common than apartment fires! That’s why the never get any news coverage; they’re just too common.

Perversely, it’s the very rarity of electric car fires that makes them news! [snark] Should we ask EV makers to quit making them so safe, so they won’t get this kind of coverage any more? [/snark]

ICEs catch fire when refueling at the rate of about 100 per year. I’m surprised there aren’t more.

Per Zim’s Question: “I am curious – when do these brand new gasoline powered cars burst into flames on their own?” I don’t remember the date, but since my Dad had a ‘wrecking yard’ on our farm in B.C. back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, he once time bought a car that was a burn out! It had been bought in Vancouver, and the next day driven about 180 miles up to our nearest town as they came to visit friends/relatives and while visiting they heard the local (Volunteer) Fire department outside their window! On looking out they saw that their car was ablaze and the firemen were preparing to hose it down! I think it was in the Mid 70’s or so when it happened! I was a kid then – so details I can remember are not so many, but that part I remember, as well as the burnt, rusty colored hulk I saw dropped off by the tow truck. I got the story after it was delivered when I asked Dad about it, and why it looked like that! I also saw a Spontaneous combustion in Traffic of a car that had a home built stereo… Read more »

Interesting that picture shows that fire started from the front end of the car…

What is the in the front end? 2nd motor and drive system? Is that where the fire started?

Look at the full picture, supplied as a link.
It does not look like the fire started in the front in that picture.


More likely that was the last part of the car still burning when the photographer arrived at the scene.

Which would indicate the fire started towards the rear of the car and burned to the front.
Looks like an electrical fault in the system caused circuits to overheat. Perhaps a fire started at the connector, cause it melted the sc station too.

Tesla took the guy and burned out fully it took guy in a Tesla which accounted for charging on Teslas quick charging station on Brokelandsheia Friday after dinner. KJETIL NYGAARD at 14.30-time Friday afternoon parked a Tesla owner his car on the charging station on Brokelandsheia in Gjerstad. After having put in the Quick Charger went the driver and a passenger away from the car. Immediately got the car in full guy and nødetatene was notified. – The car was fully lit when the fire crews came forward.

It looks like the roof of the car is completely gone! While the wheels are still partially there and burning. So could it be that the fire started at the roof of the car and worked its way down?

The cable and the supercharger are not brunet!

I’m not a fire expert, by any means, but just applying common sense, it’s doubtful that a normal fire that just burned the interior plastics, insulation, etc. would get hot enough to melt aluminum, as apparently happened here. This was almost certainly a battery pack fire, which does burn very hot, and is hard to put out without special equipment.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the Model S caught fire when it was charging at a Supercharger. The most probable cause is some sort of fault or short-circuit in the car’s electrical system or battery pack.

As noted, this is the first time a fire has started in a Model S hooked up to a Supercharger, so clearly a low-probability event happened.

Here’s hoping Tesla figures out the cause quickly.

IIRC in the long fire safety video Tesla and the fire trainers made around 2013 or 2014 featured on this site they said use lots of water and don’t puncture the battery. Showed them using the jaws of life to get at the 12v battery behind the passenger fender. Car was white or silver in color.

I think they said foam was good too. But that in either case it may flare up again so be advised.

Who would have thought that there would be two Tesla Hot Wheels news stories on the same day.

Perhaps an instance of synchronicity.
I noticed that too. Odd.
Happy New Year!

How can we tell what was the cause of the fire? Could it be that the fire started inside the car because of a cigarette on some newspaper?
So at this point we do not know what is the real cause of the fire. I think the protection unites in the car and the supercharger, should kick in. We know that there are millions of miles that are charged already from superchargers. So this could point to a fire that started in the car due to some human error.

If a cigarette can burn a Tesla to the ground, these cars would be in violation of numerous laws regarding flame retardant materials in auto interiors. According to news reports the batteries also ignited; if the fire came from the cabin that would indicate a serious firewall issue between passengers and batteries.

How about a fine bottle of Scandinavian VODKA that broke and accidentally caught fire from any source, like a lens effect. They have very fine spirits up there in Norway.

How about a deliberate act of setting the car on fire? They do have a fine set of criminals up there in Norway. Try this man.


He is so famous they even have a Wikipedia for him.

The flame resistant (not flame proof) materials in cars pass if the flame does not propagate at a rate of greater than 4 inches per minute from a single source. Given sufficient time, additional fuel (i.e. paper), and/or additional sources, auto material will indeed still burn quite nicely.

I suspect the connector to the charger was not correctly made up or there was corrosion or debris causing a high impedance that overheated when the high current “rapid charger” passed through it.
Would not take long for a fire to start. Should be easily determined by insurance investigators.
The fact that they couldn’t readily extinguish at the station is most interesting. Why aren’t they equipped with one of those magic “copper based” extinguishers?

That’s one way to shorten the Supercharger lines!

Ah, twisting the blade. How lovely of you.

Apparently it’s also a way to attract short-selling vultures.

But they’re short selling hero’s when they bet against coal mining companies, yeah?

So you’re against responsible investing I assume?

Zim said:

“But they’re short selling hero’s when they bet against coal mining companies, yeah?”

I dunno; do coal mining short-sellers spend time seeking out places on the Internet catering to those interested in coal mining, then post FUD and lies about it there? Since I don’t spend time visiting websites for fans of coal mining, I wouldn’t know.

Snarkiness aside, if Tesla’s stock wasn’t so volatile, there wouldn’t be nearly as many short-sellers who apparently think it’s worth spending their time to hunt around on the Internet for places to post FUD and lies about Tesla, or make personal attacks on anyone saying nice things about Tesla.

Either way, I would be interested to hear the investigation results and I hope inside EV keeps us updated.

The first thing I did was checked the stocks.

Would love to know what model this is. Is this a 90 kW model with the new battery chemistry? If so, that won’t have millions of supercharger miles, since that version is very new.

There is no new battery chemistry.

In fact, the 90kwh battery has a ‘new’ chemistry; the anode has silicone added to the graphite, per greencarreports and other sources.


Silicon, not silicone. They are different things.

Gawd, I hate it when (uneducated) people use those words in place of each other.

I guess that is why they don’t use CPU Chips in ‘Plastic Surgery’ since the Silicon doesn’t conform as well as Silicone for implants! But these days – such implants are ‘Saline’ – or salt water (but that is a good conductor, too!). :^)

Looks like non-stock rims on that Tesla. I wonder what else was customized.

The car was brand new, two days old. Tesla delivers other standard rims in Norway.

It appears the car was acquired by its owner on 30 December…used.

Congratulations to Tesla for celebrating Xmas (Tesla employee celebrate XMas on January 2nd because they had to work hard on Dec 24th, 25th and 26th all the way to 11:59PM on Dec 31st!

Hey InsideEVs!

About that copper-based fire extinguishant; the municipality where this happened only has 2500 citizens. Their fire department is probably on a small budget.

Copper? Why not CO2? Pretty standard for both electrical and lithium battery fires, perhaps not so good for use outside I geuss.

Dumping a truck load of sand on the vehicle would have been a good and cheap way to protect the nearby buildings. Copper based extinguishers may not be available even in larger communities. Sand typically is.

High tech fires don’t need high tech firefighting techniques.

Very glad no one was injured. It was a very unfortunate event, maybe the Supercharger wasnt installed properly. Was the car completely new or was it a new owner to the car?

Thanks, but what a memorably AWFUL website!
If anyone can extract this and post it somewhere that cares at all about the viewer, the world thanks you in advance for allowing them to avoid that horrible site.

Sad to see.

ICE vehicles DO start on fire, even new ones!
Requiring houses to have a firewall long precedes Tesla.

Catalytic converter+(dry leaves/brush/grass)=FIRE

The titanium and aluminum guard is NOT a heat shield, it’s a guard against penetration from highly unusual road debris.

Speaking only for myself, I’m still not giving up driving or believing in the future of Tesla Motors and electric vehicles in general.

Not to get too off topic: agree that the titanium slab is not a heat shield. That was an auto correction suggested by my phone. Sadly, once you post you can’t edit.

Now that I think about it, however, it could serve a useful role as heat shield: while puncturing an li-on battery is bad, dragging a bit of metal along the highway at 65 mph can’t be good either, and would likely transmit a good bit of heat into the battery back.

I’m not going to criticize Tesla here, but mainly the US’s National Fire Protection Association, writers of the National Electrical Code. Only the LOWEST powered charging devices (under 2 kw) are required to have some sort of disconnecting means other than the car connector itself. A few have criticized that there is not a way to disconnect power from a higher powered charging station. I’ll go FURTHER and say there isn’t even an INDIRECT emergenecy stop button that could at least request a breaker trip. THere have been cases where overheating has occurred at the car connector, or where the cord and car connectors have melted together, elminating a source of disconnection. This issue is just another reason why I have lost almost all respect for the NEC. They want additional equipment installed in homes and businesses that don’t need them, when there is a clear case of a high power device (anything over 2kw or greater, in this case over 100 kw) needing an easily operable shut down. In this fire’s case, at the first whiff of smoke someone would have killed the power if there was the ability to do it. This particular article dealt with a Tesla,… Read more »

These fires are SCARY. Flames shooting 20-30 feet in the air, explosions (and no doubt schrapnel) could kill any human in the proximity. Those firemen were definitely at risk standing so close to the car.

ANother reason there should be a means to kill all the power from the charging device at the first sign of trouble, to nip problems in the bud.

that what i mean in my comment,few lines later….

ICE car fires are just as scary.

I heard the tires blow and saw the chassis height drop, what “explosions” are you talking about?

in the UK at least, CCS/Chademo chargers have an emergency stop button. Don’t Superchargers??

The US codes authorities do not have jurisdiction in Norway.

As for the 40kWh Nissan DC rapid charge equipment actually in the US, they have two disconnect mechanisms. One is an emergency stop button on the charging station. Another is a large on/off throw switch within eyesight of the charging station that electrically isolates both the charging station and the transformer feeding the charging station.

Take alook at the folowing photograph

There is a red emergency switch on the charging station, and you will notice the transformer behind it and an on/off throw switch on the wall behind the transformer.

US electrical code isn’t at fault for the Norway fire, and is not at fault in creating undue risk at US rapid charge stations in the US.

Picture is a bit too vague –
I have no idea what point you are making since I HAVE seen stuff correctly installed. My question is why is stuff incorrectly installed?

Uh, Norwegian law is not absolutely the same as US law, really? No pedantic displays please.

Jamlc3 – my response is further down the page.

Bill, what version of the NEC are you reading? The 2014 version, article 625.42 requires a disconnect in a readily accessible location if the supply is rated at more than 60 amps or more than 150 volts to ground. In 2008, this was in 625.23, but it might go further back.

Yeah, what you say is very true.

SO then why are there no USER OPERABLE (the only ones who really count) disconnect associated with a Supercharger. Even if they installed the 800 amp main switch outside of all the corales (which they never do), it would be a way to shut down things if there was a problem.

It takes to long to phone the tesla installer to come out to shut his supercharger off.

Since what you say IS TRUE, why do these things pass inspection in the states? I have seen 70 ampere EVSE installed that do have user operable disconnection devices on them as per NEC code.

Its interesting that a 70 amp evse in the states requires a disconnect ‘NEAR’ the charging point, but Canadian installations never have them, at least the ones I’ve seen installed of the Sun Country Highway 70-80 amp rigs.

I’m sure the response will be the ‘authorized technician’ has a disconnect he can operate inside an adjacent building. A lotta good that does.

At every charging point I’ve seen, I’ve rarely known the ‘authorized technician’, nor where to go about finding him should there suddenly be a fire.

In most buildings, fire extinguishers are visible to the general public, and are available if no one ‘authorized’ happens to be nearby.

Hummm, I wonder why?

Per: “In this fire’s case, at the first whiff of smoke someone would have killed the power if there was the ability to do it.”, I have an idea, They have electronic Smoke Alarms for many years, CO (Carbon Monoxide) Detectors, and the like for a long time now too! Why not (similar to upgrading the car for more extreme performance with Dual Motors) add a new Safety Upgrade – that affects both Existing Superchargers and Cars, as well as all new ones, that Adds Smoke Detectors and the like to the car, and to the Supercharger Stall, such that when it detects a fire, it not only goes off and rings it’s alarm, it sends a signal (on the car alarm) to disconnect the power to charging at an internal Relay, and (at the Supercharger) disconnect power feeding the car. Since the car has a live link to Tesla’s servers, Cellular modem, etc. – either one could trigger a disconnect at the other, at the same time. Even More on the tech side – the Car and the Supercharger, upon getting such a signal – could dial 911 or the equivalent, depending on it’s known location, and report –… Read more »

Besides Smoke Alarms – I think ALL EV Charging Stations QC’s and Level 2’s in Public Areas should also have an incorporated Security Cam with good enough coverage to cover the related areas for parking by/in front of it. The Cams should (At Last) Record the activities locally, but even better – be a we-server cam, and log/record the content remotely.

Purposes – (in my Original Thoughts) were to monitor ICE’ing of Charging stations, and potential Vandalism, but in this case – it could have both recorded if any Vandalism occurred, as well as at what part of the car and time the fire started!

General Cameras could be as small as Cell Cam’s or Dash Cams with between 90 Degrees and 140 Degrees of view, so as to get good coverage, as well as readable Vehicle Plates! (In the Case of ICE’ing of Stations!

even a simple smoke detector combined with automatic interruptor could save lives,and total loss…..(with minimal cost!)

Probably the origine of the fire was electric, but we don’t know for sure.

In the night between 31-12 and 1-01 a lot of cars burn in Holland, where I come from. People get drunk and burn Christmas trees. In some Dutch cities there are wars between youth groups to get the largest number of trees. At the end, some start torching cars as well.

I don’t know what alcohol does in Norway during the year’s last night.

I checked: just in the city of Rotterdam 14 cars burned.

According to reports, the Tesla fire occurred at 2:30 in the afternoon of January 1st. That’s some party!

Sometimes ICE cars burn due to electric faults. A while ago a boot of me relative’s BMW went on fire for this reason. This could be similar -might not be related to the battery.

It also could have been simple vandalism… we just don’t know yet.

I wonder whether Tesla has telemetry of this and whether they knew that something was wrong with the car just before the fire.

Does the smartphone app have the capability to notify you of big problems even if the car is not in use?

They probably got fault telemetry as systems began to fail, as the wires melted and burst into flames.

I looked over at the Tesla motors club site, and there was quite a bit of discussion of this incident. One thing not mentioned here was that it was temporary charger that was fried, which seems odd in itself as many other permanent chargers were available. I gleaned that from the pictures, so I could be off base there.
But one thing is, is that the thread is now gone. I would suspect Tesla might have asked them to take it down until such time as they could ascertain the whys and wherefores.
Not sure, all speculation from me at this point, just musing.

Oops, my bad the thread is still up. I was looking in the wrong place. I thought it was under news.

Supercharger station Sundebru, Norway has been temporarily closed.

Why do they mention the Brokelandshiea station?

There is now a very interesting photo from Teslamotorsclub, which shows the situation at the start of the fire, before the fire brigade arrives.

It shows the fire starts at or near the back of the car.

Very strange is the white smoke visible BEHIND the car, coming from the roof of the small wooden structure.

Is there something in this little barn that got hot, independent from the car. Is there electrical equipment in the barn, where maybe a first problem arose, before getting to the supercharger and/or the car?

Paul, thanks for the photo. The fire is on the left side of the back, just where the plug is. The wooden shack left to the car is the typical main station for the supercharger which contains a 500kW transformer plus neccessary electronics. Maybe it also contains a cooling unit for the cables as we learned in a different post the other day. A bit uncommon is the placement of the charging ports, usually we see 8 in a row. Here we see 6 in a row and another two next to the car. My assumption is that the plug became too hot. Looking forward for the reports on investgation.

It looks like the trunk is open.

Interesting photo you linked to which hints that the electrical shack of the supercharger unit was the initiating event as it shows a great accumulation of smoke has spread out from the shack and the fire has engulfed the charger unit before the Tesla itself is catching fire. A supercharger electrical fire will probably be found to be the culprit.
The only other charging Tesla fire was contained in the wall of garage of a house in Irvine, California and was felt to be faulty wiring in the wall. But the car didn’t catch fire that time.
Consumer Reports gave 2 versions of the Tesla Model S their top 2 spots in their “Best Cars of 20015” article published Dec. 28th. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/12/31/consumer-reports-tesla-model-s-is-2015s-best-car.aspx#.VoafCbxfdb8.mailto

Ok, Well Peter the garage fire was at a 40 ampere rate, back when the model S plugs used to get hot (I’ve seen this myself (the heat), and also the overstretched UMC connector plug.

Tesla did 2 things, that to my mind, satisfactorily addressed the problem.

1). Reduced the current to 32 amps should there be a somewhat drop of voltage.

2). More importantly, put a fuse link in the plug to turn off the UMC should the plug be in danger of melting. The car connector charging at 40 amps was never a problem at this relatively low rate, unlike the Rav4Evs.

The connector heating AT THE CAR to my knowledge has only happened at the supercharger.

Bill, if you supercharge with 120kW at 400V, then your plug has to stand 300 Amperes ! And every MilliOhm in the plug connection generates heat.

“Every milliohm generates heat”, yeah 90 watts worth.. or 307 BTU/Hour per marginal milliohm. Your point being?

If you imagine 90 Watts of a soldering iron, you may imagine the melting capability next to and at the point of connection. As an ongoing process this might soon add another milliOhm, generating even more heat until fire. My point is that 90 Watts seem to be neglectible as a loss compared to 120 kW of charging power, but it may be a point of trouble if not cooled properly or if the metal surfaces of the connection are not clean enough. I was astonished about the relatively small size of the Tesla plug – I expected a bigger plug like the one used to connect big aircraft to ground power. These have proved their ability to transfer large amounts of electrical power over decades of usage in all weather conditions around the world.

Exactly, and I bet there are many more than just 1 milliohm resistance.

My point was when the garage fire happened it was at the other end of the cable, for in my view, and my experience (I’ve seen it) – the other end of the cable. The connector is good for 40 amps at the car, no question.

As you are implying, there is a slight difference between 40 and 300 – squared. Even more so because the resistance also goes up as things heat up. And that is only if nothing deteriorates.

Well, that’s a bummer. I hope they are able to figure out what happened.

What if this was a malfunctioning supercharger station? it could happen….

Sure, the electrical fault could have been inside the Supercharger rather that inside the car.

But if this was the first time the car was hooked up to a Supercharger following its sale as a used car, as someone above stated, then I think the odds are that the problem was in the car itself.

You can watch a photo gallery, showing that the fire started at the rear end of the car, here:


Looks Like the Power Shed Walls got a bit singed, but did not sustain fire themselves.

The ‘B’ Pillars seemed to hold up a lot better that the rest of the car, but I seem to remember they put some steel in that area to protect against ‘T-Boning’ Accidents.

The Rest of the visual body of the car, being Mostly Aluminum, just melted under the heat loads, much like an Aircraft would!

Every Level 2 charger I’ve installed I’ve installed an additional disconnecting means within sight of the vehicle, not including the connection cord to the vehicle itself.

I’ve never installed a fast charger, but if I had it also would have a disconnection means, if not a true disconnecting means, within site of the vehicle.

If an inspector interprets that the way that you are, please explain to me why every level 2 chargepoint and every supercharger (granted, only 2) that I’ve seen have no disconnection facility at all anywhere in sight.

(The chargepoints I still don’t let off the hook because swiping YOUR card still doesn’t shut down the OTHER guy’s cord).

Sample size…

You cannot look at the Tesla number at all due to the sample size. We need a statistic major to explain it, but the closest I can come is to look at political polls and their sample size in relation to the error in that sample.

The smallest size for poles is at least a 1000 of what you need for an error of +/- 4%. Here your sample of 50k seems ok, but your result of 4 burning cars is too low to draw a meaningful relation, especially when you introduce random chance of failure (mean time to failure)… IT is news because it is a Tesla, ok, but guess as to the cause and then trying to relate it to the rest of the cars/chargers isn’t meaningful until they know what the cause was, then they can fix it or increase fail to safe on that component.