Tesla Model 3 Explodes After Moscow Motorway Crash

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Vehicle catches on fire in heavy traffic after collision with stationary tow truck on Moscow ring road, in latest safety incident

A Tesla electric car caught fire and exploded after crashing into a stationary tow truck on the Moscow ring road over the weekend, after the driver said he failed to see the truck parked ahead of him.

In an interview with REN TV, driver Alexei Tretyakov said he was using the Model 3’s Autopilot in driver assistance mode, but had his hands on the steering wheel.

The incident is the latest to raise safety concerns about Tesla’s electric cars, with the company saying they are far safer than petrol-powered vehicles.

The US’s top automobile safety regulator has issued at least five subpoenas since last year seeking information about crashes involving Tesla vehicles, according to Reuters.

Tesla's Model 3. Tesla
Tesla’s Model 3 sedan. Tesla

Explosion

Tretyakov said he was driving at about the speed limit of 100 km (62 miles) per hour when he crashed into a tow truck that was servicing a vehicle on Saturday evening.

Footage published by a Moscow resident on Instagram and later shown on state TV channel Rossiya 24 showed two explosions taking place in quick succession and the car being engulfed in flames and emitting black smoke while heavy traffic passed beside it.

Tretyakov, who is head of the Arikapital investmet company, said he broke his leg in the accident and that his two children suffered minor bruises.  All three escaped from the vehicle.

Autopilot scrutiny

Tesla has faced scrutiny over previous accidents in which vehicles with Autopilot engaged crashed into stopped or stalled vehicles, including a fatal crash with a streetsweeper truck in China in 2016.

In other incidents Tesla vehicles have burst into flames due to electrical faults, as was the case in an incident involving a Model S in a Shanghai parking garage earlier this year.

Tesla has maintained the safety of its vehicles and issues quarterly reports documenting safety issues.

In the latest report it said a Tesla fire had occurred for every 170 million miles travelled between 2012 and 2018 compared to a petrol-powered vehicle fire for every 19 million miles travelled in the US in the same period.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment outside of normal US business hours.

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