Third Tesla Model S catches fire after hitting road debris. Photo via Twitter user @NASHVILLAIN_Enlarge Photo
This particular incident happened yesterday on Interstate 24 in Tennessee, and was quickly broadcast across Twitter and Instagram. As with the first incident, the latest fire was caused by the Model S driver running over a large piece of metal debris in the road--in this case, a tow hitch, which then pierced the undercarriage. It's not yet clear if the fire involved the battery pack directly.
The first report of a Model S fire came just a month ago, so perhaps it's the sudden rapid-fire news blasts that have people stirred up. Perhaps it's just that car fires make for tasty photos, and the Tesla Model S makes anything buzz-worthy. Whatever the reason, people just can't stop talking about the fires. We wish they would.
As we noted when the first Model S fire was reported,
That analysis still stands. Yes, the Model S carries with it a big lithium-ion battery pack. Yes, that has the potential to turn into a big, photogenic fire. But it's still not an epidemic, and it's not indicative of an inherent flaw in the Model S, or in battery-electric cars in general.
Cars catch fire when they crash, sometimes. The Tesla Model S is a car. So what's the big deal?
It has a scary, voodoo-magic, hey-I-read-about-laptops-bursting-into-flame battery pack instead of a gas tank.
The mental significance of that difference? Huge. The real significance of that difference? Absolutely zero.
If anything, the incidence of Tesla Model S crashes/fires is merely a result of their rapid and fairly widespread adoption; the car is selling quickly, and not just in Norway--though we can't be sure just how well it's doing, as Tesla doesn't report detailed sales results.
For those considering a Tesla Model S purchase, or for the casual observer, perhaps it's best to take a page from the owner of the first of these burned electric luxury sedans: shrug it off and carry on.