"You are 5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla!" - Elon Musk
Last week a Tesla Model S caught on fire, an incident which sparked (pun intended) many questions about the EV automaker. But Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has now officially responded to the incident in a detailed press release. Musk states that the fire was started when a piece of metal that probably fell off a semi-truck struck the underbody of the Model S with "a peak force on the order of 25 tons...only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3-inch diameter hole through the quarter-inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle."
That plating covers the fuel tank for gas-powered cars, but in the case of the Model S, it protects the battery pack.
Musk further adds that conventional cars "are vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burnt the entire car to the ground." However, Tesla's battery pack has firewalls inside of it which prevented the fire from spreading to the rest of the car. In other words, "the effective combustion potential (of the Model S) is only about 1% that of the fuel in a comparable gasoline sedan." The car's owner, who happens to be a Tesla investor, was proud to say the car's safety technology works because the fire was contained to a specific part of the car.