After Fiery China Crash, Model X Rear Doors Are Still Causing Problems for Tesla

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
after fiery china crash model x rear doors are still causing problems for tesla

The fiery aftermath of a crash on a Chinese highway has Tesla on the defensive, rebuffing claims the rear “Falcon Wing” doors of the Model X pose a danger to passengers trying to escape.

Unlike past high-profile crashes, this story doesn’t concern the potential risks of the vehicle’s Autopilot system, as it seems the cause of the accident can be entirely attributed to driver error. The chauffeur-driven Model X reportedly hit cement barriers in Guangzhou, China, while travelling at 47 miles per hour, spinning the vehicle around and sparking a head-on impact from a Ford Focus.

The vehicle’s underfloor battery pack, damaged and exposed to oxygen, erupted in flames. However, it’s what happened next that prompted a $1 million lawsuit against Tesla.

According to the owner’s statement, discovered and posted by Electrek, Lee Tada and her boyfriend were sitting in the second row, and found the electrically actuated doors — apparently drained of even residual power — impossible to open after the impact. Both rear occupants escaped by scrambling over the front seats.

Tada suffered facial injuries in the crash, and claims the driver was left with internal injuries and a long-term hospital stay. Tesla’s Chinese sales division claims to be investigating the crash with the help of local authorities.

The lawsuit stems from the inability of the rear-seat passengers to escape the burning vehicle through the rear doors. Shortly after the Model X entered the market, electrical glitches led some owners to condemn the automaker for its eye-catching but wonky rear doors. Tesla rolled out a software update to smooth out the issue.

While there’s a manual way to open the rear doors — it involves removing the speaker cover in the lower door panel and moving a latch — it’s not likely that every buyer reads through that section of the owner’s manual. Certainly, passengers wouldn’t be aware of its existence.

Tesla China released a garbled statement relating to the lawsuit:

First of all, the lives of the owner and passengers were not threaten. We are working closely with the department concerned. The distribution of the debris at the site and the damage all indicate that this was a high-speed crash – in this case, not just electric cars, but any vehicle can catch on fire. In fact, another car involved in the accident (a fuel-powered vehicle) also caught on fire. Fuel tank fire incidents happen much more often than the electric car fires.

In addition, Tesla has consistently insisted on the disclosure and transparency of information, including other information about the incident, such as the owner is asking us for 8 million yuan, and we will not accept.

Robin Ren, Vice-President of Asia-Pacific at Tesla, told Electrek the owner decided to “blackmail” the company after the insurance company failed to cover the loss, attributing the crash to driver inexperience.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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14 of 82 comments
  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Apr 24, 2017

    Why does every Tesla story on TTAC result in an eruption of idiotic comments? It makes the site look like a place where bad mannered children hang out.

    • See 11 previous
    • OldManPants OldManPants on Apr 25, 2017

      @28-Cars-Later Лайма ауруы.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Apr 25, 2017

    And to comment on the story, I'm no fan of gull-wing doors. People unfortunately do get trapped in crashed and burning cars that have regular doors. It takes a while to sort out whether the car design was negligent.

  • Analoggrotto As we Tesla owners receive our life energy from the greatest son of the gods of all time, Elon Musk; His cherubs and His nephilim may remove whatever they wish from us for unto him we owe all for our superiority above all the rest of humanity.
  • Kcflyer Nice to see California giving NY some competition to be the worst run state in the union.
  • Wolfwagen I see my comment was deleted (BTW nice way to censor) so i will say it again:GTFO here with the pseudo "wealth distribution" BS. A crime is a crime is a crime.Its a slippery slope, what happens next, Jail a rich guy when he kills a pedestrian and let the poor guy who kills a pedestrian walk? What about if the poor guy is a crappy driver and has the record to prove it then what?Or we could go crazy and just institute the death penalty across the board for every driving infraction. That will make people better drivers or stop driving altogether which will make the greenies happy (damm it I just gave them an idea - SOB!!!)
  • Wolfwagen No. Bring back the J80 with an inline six and reduced electronics (i.e. no giant touch screen) and they will probably sell like hotcakes
  • David S. " test vehicles sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic."??? Test vehicles are programmed by humans, HUMANS sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic, Duh!!