Tesla Investigates As Model S Bursts Into Flames In Shanghai

Tesla has said it is investigating an incident in which a Model S electric vehicle apparently burst into flames whilst stationary in a Shanghai parking garage.

The automobile was gutted by the flames, and those on either side of it, an Audi and a Lexus, were also severely damaged, Shanghai firefighters told local media.

“After learning about the incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent the team to the scene last night,” Tesla said in a Mandarin-language message on its official Weibo social messaging account.

“We are actively contacting relevant departments and supporting the verification. According to current information, there are no casualties.”

Shanghai Fire Department/Miaopai

Fiery explosion

The car had been parked in a garage in the Xujiahui district of Shanghai for about half an hour when smoke began pouring from the bottom of the car.

Moments later it burst into flames, according to a surveillance camera video of the incident posted by the Shanghai fire department on social media.

According to the footage, after the fire had run its course only the Tesla’s burnt-out frame remained.

The explosion occurred at about 8:15 p.m. local time on Sunday, or Sunday morning GMT, after the car’s owner, a man named Huang, parked it and went to his flat upstairs, according to a report in the Xinmin Evening News.

Huang said he was unaware of the fire until he smelled smoke and saw a fire engine.

“What if I parked it half an hour later than I actually did? Or stayed in the car for half an hour?” he was quoted as saying.

Parked vehicle

Previous incidents of Model S vehicles catching fire had apparently occurred whilst the vehicles were in motion.

Last year British television director Michael Morris posted photos of his black Model S in flames after catching fire whilst in traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Another such incidenet occurred in France in 2016, and a series of fires involving the model took place in 2013.

Most fires affecting electric cars have related to the inflammable materials used in their batteries, often caused by crashes or other conditions that would have caused a fire in a gasoline-powered vehicle.

The French fire was caused by an improperly tightened electrical connection, Tesla said.

The incident in Shanghai comes as Tesla executives held an event on Monday at which they promised new car features, including a more aggressive “LA traffic mode” for the cars’ autopilot feature, supplementing the existing “Mild”, “Average” and “Mad Max” settings.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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