After a couple of accidents involving Tesla
’s Model S
electric car resulted in fires, the company has scrambled to find a solution that didn’t involve completely re-engineering the undercarriage and engine compartment. That solution has taken the form of a relatively simple three-part titanium shield underneath the vehicle.
The fires resulted when road debris punctured the Model S’s battery compartment when the vehicle ran over them at high speeds, so Tesla decided to simply improve that specific area of the car. There are now three titanium pieces protecting the compartment.
There’s a hollow bar designed to deflect or absorb the impact of road debris and at least knock it forward away from the battery compartment. There’s also a plate that’s there simply as an added layer of puncture-proofing, and the third piece is set at a slight angle and can absorb an object’s force, actually helping the Model S ramp up and over debris.
Judging from CEO Elon Musk
’s blog post
about the shields, you get the sense that he feels that the whole thing is a bit ridiculous. He notes that even though there were two fires in Model S incidents, all of the safety measures already built in--including the onboard warning computer and steel and ceramic firewalls-kept the occupants safe.
He also stated that to date, there have been zero fatalities and serious injuries related to the Model S, and that the fire risk in a Model S even before the addition of the titanium shields is five times less than in a normal gasoline-powered car.
“Nonetheless, we felt it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind,” he wrote. As a result, the Model S is a car that can actually crush concrete as it drives over it. Seriously, check out the video in Musk’s blog post