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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
  • Pig_Iron 💝