I assume the video of the burning Tesla was AFTER the fire department puctured the firewall. Is that right?
Agreed that the realtive saftey of the Tesla is very high and should not spawn a frenzy of EV fears. That said, this is a marketing nightmare and could undermine the company and set back the EV market.
A viral video of a flaming car is so much more powerful than 300 words explaining the technical reality of what happened and the relative saftey of EVs and gasoline engine cars.
It is an impressive fire, but I have seen gasoline cars burn like that too. The numbers do indicate fires happening more often in gasoline vehicles, but I don't think they have enough data yet to prove that batteries are safer for fire danger.
Re: Musk's claim is baseless Caleb, You're right. I did some search about fuel tank safety regulations. Only thing I found is FMCSA393.67 which didn't prohbit bottom mount, not even for gastank mounted after real axle. Only impact related test is 30 feet drop test. Maybe the time to adding bottom impact test for gasoline cars and EV/HEV.
The undercarriage has armor plating, there are firewalls between battery modules and between the undercarriage and the passenger compartment, and still a foreign object impaled one or more of the batteries, causing a fire. Even without hard data to compare to gasoline combustion engine vehicle fires, that certainly sounds like an outlier incident to me. It is also important to note that the driver was warned to exit the vehicle and escaped uninjured. You don't get that advance warning with a punctured gasoline tank.
Musk claimed "...Had a conventional gasoline car encountered the same object on the highway, the result could have been far worse."
Should not be too hard for Musk to find out how many car fires caused by bottom impaction. The fact is a conventional gasoline car has much less chance to catch fire in the same situation as Tesla, although the fire could be much worse in case it did start. First, a gas tank in a car is far away from ground, comparing to Tesla's bottom mounted battery pack. Secondary, the bottom area of gas tank is much smaller than Tesla's battery pack.
Lithium batteries sure are getting a bad rap, of late. PCs, airplanes, cars, anything more? I'd like to know what kind of debris this Tesla ran over, specifically, and then compare what it might have done to a gasoline tank. Too much vague generality tends to make me skeptical.
Anyway, to continue my mantra, battery powered EVs seem unimaginative and apologetic, at best. It's time to get better EVs out there.
I wonder what is the barrier against using a safer battery type. Cost? Energy density? Search the youtubes for nail-puncture videos of standard Lithium Ion cells and A123 Systems' batteries and you'll have a good comparison..