The video of the Tesla Model S fire accident is pretty scary. Though it is being justified as being caused by the battery getting damaged by hitting into something and this could be a rare incident, but it is dangerous and could be life threatening. I am sure a detailed investigation would reveal the real reason and something will be done to prevent it, but I guess more research is need in knowing all possible failure modes of of Li-ion battery. Also I learned that the fire from Li-ion batteries is not controlled easily...another area for more research, which I guess is already going on.
the combustion potential of that bettery is a fraction of what you would find in a typical gasoline fueled vehicle. Sure, there's a possibility of it catching fire, and that is life threatening, but there's the same risk with your typical gas powere vehicle.
Teslas are less than a year old and they've made less than 20,000 of these cars in all (wikipedia). Unless somebody can show me gasoline engine cars catch fire at a higher than 1/20,000 rate in their first year of service, this is a serious issue deserving serious attention.
The video is scary, as any car fire is. More scary is the report that the fire dept. used water on the Lithium batteries to put it out. Usually that is a very bad idea. What is the right way to douse a lithium fueled fire?
For goodness sake! Please consider that the technology that you are drawing comparisons between differ greatly in their degree of maturity and their ultimate potential. Gasoline engines are over 100 years old. The type of electric vehicles that you are drawing unfavorable comparisons against gas engines are, at best, 20 years old and some of the technology is only 5 years old. EVs are only getting started.
Gasoline, aviation fuel, and other liquid and gaseous fuels have nearly a hundred years of history and billions of examples behind their present day safety. The last real incident that I remember was the 1970's Ford Pinto needing re-positioning of the gas tank so a rear-end collision wouldn't turn into an inferno.
While Teslas look to be some of the most amazing cars around, sporty like the (earlier) European sports cars, and highly touted by the Wall Street boys who all want one (as do I), this exotic battery technology just doesn't have the real-life environmental and practical use hours behind it to have the bugs worked out of it in large-scale applications like aircraft and automobiles.
While an electronic voice warning the passengers to please exit the vehicle as soon as possible may sound comforting to some people, that sounds like a very small band-aid that might not be overly convenient at the time. I'm certain that I've driven by 20,000 vehicles in the last few months and I don't recall seeing any on fire (this includes EV's and hybrids). There does seem to be an endless trail of tire treads, 2x4's, furniture, and other debris littered down the highway. That shouldn't cause a car to burst into flames (or a Concorde).
If Tesla is going to avoid becoming another Edsel/Corvair/Pinto/Explorer poster boy then it's going to have to completely solve any battery issues, whether or not exotic battery chemistry, behavior, and construction are supposed to be Tesla's core competency.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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