Feeling the Burn: Tesla Issues Software Update Following Rash of Fires

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
feeling the burn tesla issues software update following rash of fires

The spontaneous combustion of several Tesla vehicles in recent weeks has forced the automaker into action, issuing over-the-air updates in an attempt to snuff out the problem… and smother another round of bad PR. To its credit, Tesla seems to be taking the matter seriously.

The update covers the company’s Model S and X vehicles, regardless of country. Meanwhile, investigations continue into the cause of recent blazes in Shanghai, San Francisco, and Hong Kong.

In a statement reported by the BBC, Tesla said it issued the update “out of an abundance of caution.”

“As we continue our investigation of the root cause… we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity.”

While the company said it doesn’t know the exact cause of the fires, “thermal runaway” is a known danger with lithium-ion batteries. The unstoppable chain reaction, in which temperatures soar within a fraction of a second, has even brought down airliners.

In late April, security camera footage showed a parked Model S smoking, then exploding, in a Shanghai parking garage, incinerating a row of high-end German sedans. Earlier this month, a Model S spontaneously caught fire in a private San Francisco garage. And, this past Sunday, a parked Model S caught fire in the parking lot of a Hong Kong shopping mall. According to media reports, the sedan, which had been parked for half an hour, took 45 minutes to extinguish.

The automaker has sent a team of investigators to probe the Hong Kong incident.

While Tesla claims its battery packs are designed to vent smoke and heat away from the cabin in the event of a fire, one look at the Shanghai video would give any aspiring owner cold feet. After several seconds of visible smoke towards the rear of the car, the thing goes up like a torch.

A company spokesperson told CNN “we believe the right number of incidents to aspire to is zero.”

[Image: Tesla]

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  • APaGttH APaGttH on May 16, 2019

    I can't wait for the first S3XY recall - lol.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 16, 2019

    I'm not a Musk apologist by any means, but... Laughs in open recall on F150 due to risk of fire in an accident that I have now been waiting 5 months for parts for. As a lifelong Ford guy, Tesla is amateur hour here

    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on May 17, 2019

      Didn't Ford figure out how to make cruise control buttons that turned their steering wheels into fire hazards? It does tick me off that I can't have a gas grill on my balcony, but someone can charge a Tesla in their condo's garage and subject their neighbors to the full Dresden.

  • Bullnuke Chief Transition Officer, eh? And the term "Lean Manufacturing" being spoken... Is that the sound of the headsman's axe being ground sharp that I hear in the background? Brings back memories of the late '00s at my old OEM coatings plant.
  • BEPLA At the right price, would be a great EV conversion candidate.
  • BEPLA In other news: It costs more to eat out than to eat at home.
  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)