Experts surprised driver survived high-speed Tesla Model S crash

Article by Andrew Christian, on July 11, 2014

When a driver of a stolen Tesla Model S involved in a high-speed crash and fire didn’t die from the accident, surprises and questions were made known about the electric car. According to safety experts who reviewed images of the accident, the car outran police before crashing at high speed into vehicles.

It then hit a steel pole and split in two, leading to a fire in the luxury sedan, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Department reports.

La Brea, Fire Capt. Rick Flores said the driver was thrown from the Model S. “I was surprised anyone survived this thing,” remarked Casey Grant, who studies automotive fires for the National Fire Protection Association.

He told Bloomberg in a phone interview that the event was striking since it seemed like a “non-survivable crash.” The crash revived questions about the safety of electric-car technology. In 2013, US regulators launched a safety review into crash-related fires that involved two Model S sedans.

The review led to the installation of titanium shield to strengthen the car’s battery pack. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk remarked that despite fires, the crashworthiness of the Model S as well as absence of fatalities in the 2013 accidents highlights the vehicle’s safety.

He remarked that the odds of fire in a Model S is around 1 in 8,000 vehicles, or five times lower than those of an average gasoline car. He added that if a fire does broke out, the actual combustion potential is comparatively small.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, remarked that accidents wherein cars struck steel poles don’t have to be fast to cause serious damage. He said that IIHS has yet to have the Model S undergo it’s a safety tests that entails slamming cars into fixed metal poles at about 18 mph (29 kph).

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