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Tesla Model S Explodes in Shanghai


A Tesla Model S exploded in a Shanghai car park last month prompting an investigation into why. The model appears to be a first-generation Model S. A video appears to show the car bursting into flames. The video has been widely broadcast over Chinese media. Tesla has sent a team to Shanghai to investigate the accident.

In a similar incident in San Francisco, a Tesla Model S that was being towed burst into flames after the car suffered a rapid loss of tire pressure.

These lawsuits all seemed to be related to the lithium-ion battery that the Tesla cars use. In cases where the battery overheats, it could cause one of the tires to blow out and the car to burst into flames. However, it could also be a case of the chicken and the egg.

The other possibility is that the tire blowout destabilized the battery causing the car to burst into flames.

Why Do Lithium Batteries Explode? 

The placement of the lithium battery in the car has a great deal of impact on the surrounding architecture. Part of that architecture is the wheelbase where the tires around found. In Tesla cars, which are generally very compact, the added heat can cause the casing of the tire to melt which could trigger the explosion.

Today, lithium-ion batteries are found in just about everything. You can find them in laptops, smartphones, and now, cars. While they’re generally safe for public use, sometimes something goes wrong causing them to catch fire. The future of the technology will depend on eliminating the risk and making them safe for roads.

Lithium-ion batteries excel in one area above other batteries: They are very easy to recharge. They are single-handedly responsible for the mobile revolution. Mostly, however, they’re very similar to their progenitors. Lithium batteries have a positively-charged cathode and a negatively-charged anode. These are separated by a sheet of microperforated plastic that prevents the two electrodes from touching. The battery is charged by the process of pushing ions through from the cathode to the anode. The “microperforated” plastic must be able to permit the passage of ions without allowing the two electrodes to touch. Therein lies the problem.

When your phone is using energy, the very opposite of the charging process occurs. In other words, ions are pushed from anode to the cathode. When this happens slowly, a bit at a time, the process powers your car or phone all day long. But when it happens all at once, it creates a major explosion.

While the batteries in phones have only one lithium cell, the batteries in cars have hundreds. When one cell degrades it will cause a cascade failure that triggers all the others. While companies like Tesla have done a good job of preventing this type of cascade failure, it has not been perfect. In cases where it causes injury or death, Tesla is liable for the damage.

Talk to a Tire Litigation Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured by a defective tire, the Coral Gables tire defect lawyers at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert can help you recover damages related to your injuries. We have successfully recovered multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients. Talk to us today for a free consultation.




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