Monday, November 18, 2013

Here We Go Again: Tesla Model S Under Fire

Not long ago, the Tesla Model S got about the best reviews possible. Here's the Huffington Post report:

Here's Consumer Reports' review of the Tesla Model S:
Here's Consumer Reports' review of the Tesla Model S:

Here's a report of Tesla cars on fire:

Here's Elon Musk's response:

Now George Clooney gets into the act:

Elon Musk fires back:

This has been another edition of people with too much time on their hands. (Not meaning to disparage Elon Musk. I think he and his company are getting a bad rap. Note: George Clooney had a Tesla Roadster, a discontinued model.)

Footnote. Remember the hundreds of thousands of Toyota and Lexus cars recalled by Toyota and the estimated $2 billion in losses suffered over problems with brakes on various models? Here's the outcome of the NHTSA and NASA studies:
In February 2011 the findings of a 10-month-long study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), aimed to identify the main cause of sudden acceleration in Toyota and Lexus models. The study was requested by the US Congress and "enlisted NASA engineers with expertise in areas such as computer controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity". The most common problem was drivers hitting the gas when they thought they were hitting the brake, which the NHTSA called "pedal misapplication.” Of the 58 cases reported, 18 were dismissed out of hand. Of the remaining 40, 39 of them were found to have no cause; the remainder being an instance of “pedal entrapment.” One investigator says most of the cases involved “pedal misapplication” – that is, “the driver stepped on the gas rather than the brake or in addition to the brake.”
 Remember the problems with the Audi 5000 back in the 80s? Another one involving a NHTSA investigation:
A 60 Minutes report aired 23 November 1986, featuring interviews with six people who had sued Audi after reporting unintended acceleration, showing an Audi 5000 ostensibly suffering a problem when the brake pedal was pushed. Subsequent investigation revealed that 60 Minutes had engineered the failure – fitting a canister of compressed air on the passenger-side floor, linked via a hose to a hole drilled into the transmission.
Audi contended, prior to findings by outside investigators, that the problems were caused by driver error, specifically pedal misapplication. Subsequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that the majority of unintended acceleration cases, including all the ones that prompted the 60 Minutes report, were caused by driver error such as confusion of pedals. CBS did not acknowledge the test results of involved government agencies, but did acknowledge the similar results of another study.
Good luck, Tesla.


  1. Where are the objects (or pictures of them) which reportedly caused two of the Tesla Model S fires? You have an interesting background, but I see no engineering or science education – much less combined -- with 30-40+ years of actual experience analyzing complex systems. Here's an analysis related to the "known problem" of lithium-ion batteries which can suffer catastrophic "field failures."
    Tesla Motors Model S battery had thermal runaway
    Lattice Energy LLC October 16, 2013
    (82 vugraphs)
    An Update on Toyota and Unintended Acceleration - 10/26/13
    Saturday, October 26th, 2013 by Michael Barr
    Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration Lawsuit Ends In Landmark Verdict
    Written by Beasley Allen on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 13:21
    Toyota Unintended Acceleration and the Big Bowl of “Spaghetti” Code
    This entry was posted on Thursday, November 7th, 2013 at 4:34 pm .
    Michael Barr’s vugraphs
    Michael Barr’s testimony
    Dr. Phillip Koopman’s testimony – parts 1 and 2

  2. U.S. opens Tesla battery fire probe
    November 19, 2013 at 6:44 am
    David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau

  3. NHTSA: Tesla didn't ask for Model S investigation
    November 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm
    David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau

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