IMAGE: Facebook/Twitter/Gladwyne Volunteer Fire Company/@albertclee
In a shocking incident, Tesla’s newly launched Tesla Model S Plaid sedan dubbed as the “fastest car” to date by Tesla Inc’s CEO Elon Musk caught fire and exploded under mysterious circumstances in Haverford, Pennsylvania while the owner was at the wheel, chief fire officer for the Lower Merion Township Fire Department, Charles McGarvey told the press.
Shortly before the batteries of the high-end version of Tesla’s Model S “spontaneously combusted,” the driver was trapped inside the vehicle as the doorways had jammed due to the lock malfunction. The car owner, however, managed to "force his way out of the vehicle,” his lawyer Mike Geragos of Geragos & Geragos said in a statement. Model S Plaid was among the first batch delivery of nearly 250 “high performance” Tesla flagship electric sedans, shipped to the customers earlier in June.
Calling the accident “harrowing and frightening,” the driver's lawyers said that the preliminary investigation was immediately ordered. They also called on Tesla to “sideline these cars” until the cause of the fire that led to the blast was determined. The Geragos & Geragos slammed the electric car manufacturer for not operating a public relations department to take requests for comments on the situation.
In April, prior to the official launch, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had admitted on Joe Rogan Experience podcast that it was in fact “quite a bit of development to ensure that the battery of the new S and X were safe”. He said that putting together a $130,000 car with a 1,020-hp EV that accelerates 0-60 mph in 2.07-seconds was "more challenges than expected”.
Furthermore, driving the Model S Plaid on test track onstage, the Tesla CEO said, “Why make this really fast car that’s crazy fast? Because it’s something that’s quite important to the future of sustainable energy. We’ve gotta show that an electric car is the best car, hands down.” Musk called the model “limit-of-physics engineering” and Tesla’s fastest car yet was supposed to fend off the luxury vehicles such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Lucid Motor. First Model S Plaid shipments were live-streamed at its US factory in Fremont, California.
As Tesla’s halo product was driven by the Pennsylvania driver identified as only "executive entrepreneur” he suddenly noticed plumes of black smoke emerging on the back of the vehicle. As he covered 35 feet to 40 feet (11 to 12 meters) inside his brand new Tesla Model S Plaid, it turned into a "fireball" near the residential area where he pulled over. The car touted by Tesla as "faster than any Porsche, safer than any Volvo" was engulfed by the flames prior to the large explosion.
“A Tesla was on fire,” the Lower Merion Township Fire Department summoned at the scene wrote in a Facebook post that was immediately deleted. They had added that the “batteries were cooled down to ensure complete extinguishment.” Chief Fire Officer Charles McGarvey said in televised remarks that it took the fire service more than three hours to extinguish the blazes on the scene, adding that the EV battery fires were extremely hard to fight as they reignited hours or days later, basis the Teslas that had caught fire in the past.
US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) meanwhile stated that it was in touch with relevant agencies, and the manufacturer [Tesla] and was gathering more information. "If data or investigations show a defect or an inherent risk to safety exists, NHTSA will take action as appropriate to protect the public," the federal safety agency said hinting towards the lawyers appeal to ground all Tesla Model S Plaids or pull them from the road until the cause of combustion was determined.