Experts surprised driver survived high-speed Tesla Model S crash

Article by Christian A., 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).

The new Tesla Model S features an electric all-wheel drive system -- employing a motor on the front and another on the rear -- that digitally controls torque to the front and rear wheels. This configuration allows the Model S to offer unmatched traction control in any condition while increasing efficiency levels.

As engineered, the new Model S boasts of being the quickest four-door sedan so far, with the ability to sprint from a complete stop to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. Since the battery pack is placed along the floor pan, just between the axles, the Model S has low center of gravity, which in turn offers optimal handling.

As for storage room, the new Model S offers additional space for cargo as well as a spacious cabin that could accommodate five adults and two children in rear-facing jump seats – thanks to the fact that it has no internal combustion engine.

Inside the cabin, the Model S features a 17-inch center touchscreen on which navigation, media, communications as well as cabin control and vehicle data are integrated into a single intuitive interface. A number of the functions shown on the touchscreen are also found on the instrument panel. Amazingly, these functions can be activated through voice.

Since the Model S employs no combustion engine, it doesn’t consume even a drop of gasoline. In fact, the Model S is rated by the EPA to return an equivalent of 90 miles per gallon.

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