Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk typically makes big announcements in posts on the company blog, but to unveil a new safety feature for the Model S, he chose a new medium … GIFs.
After a pair of fires caused by collisions with road debris, Tesla is reinforcing the undersides of its Model S electric cars. Musk decided to explain the improvements with GIFs, which appeared in posts on the Tesla blog and on personal blogging site (wait for it) Medium.
A Model S running over a trailer hitch probably isn’t the most entertaining thing you’ll see on the Internet today, but it gets the point across.
The shielding consists of three pieces. The first is a hollow aluminum bar designed to deflect objects, a titanium plate, and a solid piece of aluminum designed to help the car “ramp up” over an object, rather than allowing the object to pierce its underside.
Tesla says it conducted 152 tests, during which “the shields prevented any damage that could cause a fire” or penetrate the existing aluminum panel that protects the battery pack. The company also says the additions have a negligible weight penalty, affecting range by just 0.1 percent.
The modification applies to all chassis manufactured as of March 6, but Tesla will also retrofit shielding free of charge to existing cars.
In addition, Tesla launched an over-the-air software update late last year to raise the Model S’ ground clearance at highway speeds.
Tesla probably hopes this latest step will close the book on Model S fires.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) completed an investigation, but did not find the need to take further action.