Beware Burning Teslas

For the record, I’m a bit of a fan of Tesla electric cars, though to be clear they are for the time being a luxury good, and moreover in states with lots of coal-fired electricity they actually increase total greenhouse gas emissions on a net basis. (One friend in a coal-heavy state has a sticker on his Tesla: “How do you like my coal-powered car?”)

But with all the media attention on the fires occurring on “Hoverboards” over the holiday season, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note this story:

Tesla Model S Bursts Into Flames While Charging

On New Year’s Day, a Tesla owner in Norway plugged in his Tesla Model S at a SuperCharger station near Kristiansand in the Aust-Agden region and went off to do some shopping while his battery recharged. A few minutes later, his car burst into flames and was destroyed. The duty officer at the campus police office of Jon Kvitnes College told Norway’s VG News, “We received notification at 2.29 pm that a car was on fire near a cafe on Brokelandsheia. We came out with the fire brigade and police, but it turned out that this car was burned out when the emergency services arrived at the scene.” Fortunately, there was no one in the car at the time and there were no injuries. . .

Tesla copyAccording to Leif Hansen, who lives in Norway, the following statement was made to the local news media by Anders Torbjørnsen, a member of the fire brigade operations center at the college. “It is not possible to extinguish EV fires with water , so the fire department closed the area around the powerful SuperCharger and used a special foam to control the flames. The world renowned electric car has batteries made of lithium, a metal that is highly flammable , and that makes firefighting difficult.

“Electric vehicle fires are fairly new for us at Agder . It is quite rare for an electric car to burn, but once it catches fire,  lithium batteries make it more challenging. After a while the fire brigade brought the flames under control but the car was completely damaged.” That’s quite an understatement.