Car Culture

Tesla Model S fire stokes electric car fears

Video of a burning Tesla Model S was posted online today, causing the company's stock price to drop.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Despite not having a tank full of gasoline to burn, the Tesla Model S can catch on fire, as evidenced by a video posted online.

The video, taken from a passing car, initially shows an unidentified distant car in flames, with firefighters on the scene. As the videographer passes closer, it is clear that the car is a Model S.

Incidents in the past where a Chevrolet Volt and a Fisker Karma caught fire caused some to question whether the high-capacity batteries in electric cars were safe. The Model S fire seems to have raised those fears again, as a Wall Street Journal story correlates the video posting with a drop in Tesla's stock price.

In a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal, a Tesla spokesperson explained that the car had hit a large metal object in the road, causing significant damage and enacting a warning advising the driver to pull over. There were no injuries in the incident, and the spokesperson noted that the fire was contained to the front of the car, and never entered the passenger compartment.

Tesla's Web site currently carries the phrase "The safest car in America," based on recent crash tests conducted by NHTSA that had the Model S outpacing all other vehicles.