A curved section that fell off a semi-trailer was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred and, according to the road crew that was on the scene, appears to be the culprit. The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling 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.
Interesting that this is written by Elon Musk (with some help likely) and he actually turns the tables at the end:
The nationwide driving statistics make this very clear: there are 150,000 car fires per year according to the National Fire Protection Association, and Americans drive about 3 trillion miles per year according to the Department of Transportation. That equates to 1 vehicle fire for every 20 million miles driven, compared to 1 fire in over 100 million miles for Tesla. This means you are 5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla! For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.— Elon
The post also includes an email from the driver – who is also an investor – who can’t wait to get behind another Tesla shortly (a loaner is on the way).
- Tesla Model S on Fire, caught on tape (Updated with details, statement) (electrek.co)
- Elon Musk talks about the Tesla Model S’s safety; Battery fire was statistical inevitability (electrek.co)