Currently, a Model S has a 1 in 2.5 million chance of burning down while charging at a Tesla Supercharger but that’s really not something Tesla owners need to worry about. This statistic is simply based on the fact that Superchargers have been used 2.5 million times with only one report of a fire earlier this year in Norway. Though it was quite a significant fire, burning the car to the ground, no one fortunately was injured.
We have been following the investigations, which have not been very fruitful – likely due to the condition of the vehicle, but the authorities believe that the fire originated “inside the vehicle” and not from the Supercharger itself.
Today Tesla revealed that it concluded its own investigation and confirms that the cause of the fire was a short-circuit in the car and though the automaker doesn’t know why the short-circuit happened, and again the odds of another fire are extremely low, it will nonetheless push a software update to its fleet to “provide extra security during charging”.
TL;DR/Takeaway: Tesla determined that the fire started due to a short-circuit in the distribution box in the car. The automaker will push a OTA update to its fleet to make charging even safer in a few weeks.
A quick chronology of the events that led to today’s news:
January 1, 2016: A 1-year-old used Model S caught fire while charging at a Supercharger in Gjerstad, Norway. No one was injured, but the Model S was completely burned down. Tesla launches a full investigation.
January 6, 2016: Police can’t find a problem with the charger and “released” it, but it’s still offline.
January 14, 2016: the ‘Accident Investigation Board’ (AIBN) is shutting down the investigation and report indications that the fire might have originated in the car.
Which brings us to today, when Tesla’s communication manager in Norway issued the following statement to local news (translated to English):
“In January, it was an isolated incident where a Model S caught fire while using a Supercharger. The cause was a short-circuit in the distribution box in the car. Superchargers were turned off immediately when the short-circuit was discovered. No one was injured in the fire. Our investigation confirmed that this was an isolated incident, but due to the damage to the car, we could not definitely identify the exact cause of the short-circuit.”
Norwegian authorities confirmed being satisfied with Tesla’s explanation, which is probably the best they will get considering the state of what remain of the vehicle.
Tesla confirmed that the next over-the-air software update will provide “extra security during charging” and will include a “diagnostic solution to identify potential short-circuit”.