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Posts Tagged ‘battery fires’

NHTSA Formally Investigating Tesla Model S Fires

Battery carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk says he asked feds to investigate.

by on Nov.19, 2013

The owner of this Model S says he would buy another one of the battery cars despite the fire.

Following the third fire in barely six weeks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a formal investigation of the Tesla Model S electric vehicle.

Two of the fires occurred after the cars struck large pieces of road debris, penetrating their battery compartments and apparently causing short circuits. A third blaze followed a high-speed crash. In all instances, drivers were able to escape the vehicles without injury.

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But concerns about the fires have contributed to a recent run on start-up carmaker Tesla’s once high-flying stock.

A total of 13,000 of the Model S battery cars sold in the U.S. are directly covered by the investigation though if NHTSA were to order a recall or some other action it might also impact an additional 6,000 vehicles shipped abroad since sales of the Model S began in July 2012.


Tesla Fire Gives Chills to Investors

Debris blamed for battery fire that seriously damages Model S.

by on Oct.03, 2013

A video on YouTube showed the fire that consumed the front end of a Model S, apparently after roadway debris damaged the battery pack.

Roadway debris is tentatively catching the blame for a fire that seriously damaged a Tesla Model S being driven in a Seattle suburb – with that news, combined with new concerns about the battery-carmaker’s high-flying stock sending the price of shares plunging by more than 6%.

The fire itself raised serious concerns about the safety of not just the Tesla Model S, but about the use of lithium-ion batteries in general. There have been problems with other vehicles using the technology, while Boeing was forced to ground its new 787 Dreamliner earlier this year because of fires involving the jet’s first-of-its-king lithium battery system.

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According to a report by Washington State Police, a motorist was driving a Tesla Model S equipped with the company longest-range, 85 kilowatt-hour battery. After apparently striking some metallic debris on the road, the owner began to smell smoke, police were later told, parked the vehicle and exited.  The vehicle reportedly then caught fire.


Late Update: Explosion at GM Tech Center Battery Lab

One worker hospitalized, battery lab indefinitely closed.

by on Apr.11, 2012

A lithium-ion battery being tested at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

This is the latest update of’s initial report, posted at 5:30 PM EDT.

An explosion at a battery vehicle research lab at the General Motors Technical Center resulted in six injuries, including one hospitalization.  The lab was evacuated and it and adjoining offices will remain closed at least for another day.  The automaker says the incident was the result of “extreme testing on a prototype battery.”

Though the maker stresses that its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was not involved in the incident, the explosion could prove another setback considering the brouhaha that followed reports of several fires involving the Volt last year subsequent to crash testing by federal safety regulators.

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“An incident occurred about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday inside a test chamber at the General Motors Alternative Energy Center during extreme testing of an experimental battery,” the maker stated in a news release. “Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber. The battery itself was intact. The battery tested and the incident have no connection with the Chevrolet Volt or any other GM production vehicle.”

The automaker reports five employees were treated at the scene with another worker’s injuries requiring hospitalization.


Fisker Recall Triggered by Potential Battery Fire

Impacts entire initial run of plug-in hybrids now on the road.

by on Dec.30, 2011

The Fisker Karma is recalled due to a potential battery fire problem.

In a potentially embarrassing turn of events, the California-based battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive will recall all of the cars it has sold so far due to a potential defect that could cause the $102,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids to catch fire.

The problem is only remotely similar to the issue believed to have caused several fires involving Chevrolet Volt plug-ins after they were tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  An improperly installed hose clamp, Fisker said, can result in the leak of coolant that could, in turn, short out the Karma’s lithium-ion battery pack.

“If coolant enters the battery compartment, an electric short could occur,” a notice on the NHTSA website says, “possibly resulting in a fire.”

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As a result of the defect Fisker will recall 232 of the plug-in hybrid sports cars to repair the clamp.  But less than 50 are actually in the hands of owners following a slower-than-expected launch of the Karma – which is assembled at a plant in Finland then shipped to the United States.  Spokesman Roger Ormischer indicated there have been no reports of any problems with the vehicles that have already been sold.


Ford Insists its Battery Cars Will be Safe

Maker has taken added steps to prevent post-crash fires.

by on Dec.14, 2011

A Ford Focus Electric using a high-speed charger.

Clearly concerned by the controversy that’s erupted over fires involving the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion batteries, Ford Motor Co. officials pointedly stressed that they have gone to extremes to ensure there won’t be problems when they launch an array of lithium-powered products in the coming year.

Ford provided an inside look at their “electrified” line-up today, a mix of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that the maker hopes will position it as one of the leaders in the growing green automotive niche.

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“The goal is to focus on affordable, sustainable technologies, not for 100s of customers or thousands, but for millions,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development chief, who added that the maker “will triple the production capacity for electrified vehicles to 100,000 by 2013.”


Feds Step Up Investigation in Wake of New Chevy Volt Fires

New tests raise additional concerns.

by on Nov.28, 2011

NHTSA has now launched a formal investigation after an additional fire in a Chevy Volt battery pack it was crash-testing.

Already concerned about a battery fire that followed the spring crash test of a Chevrolet Volt, federal safety regulators have opened a new investigation as the result of additional fires involving Volt’s lithium-ion batteries.

Company officials have already blamed the initial incident on a failure to follow proper procedures following the crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they contend the Volt is safe despite the latest fires.  But the new study could create a serious problem for the automaker as it gets ready to push for a six-fold increase in sales of the plug-in hybrid next year.

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In a statement, GM said it has “worked closely” with the NHTSA and wasn’t surprised by the news the agency would launch a formal investigation.  But the maker also declared the volt “is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash.”