Tesla rushes investigators to China to figure out why a parked Model S exploded

Tesla fire China

Tesla has rushed a team of investigators to Shanghai to look into how and why a Model S exploded in a parking garage. The incident happened on the evening of April 21, and a video of the electric sedan going up in flames was widely shared on Chinese social media network Weibo before spreading to Twitter and Facebook. The company stressed that no one was hurt during the incident.

Footage from what appears to be a security camera shows an early, pre-face-lift Model S backed into a parking spot. Smoke slowly begins to emit from the bottom of the car, where its lithium-ion battery pack is located. The Model S explodes several seconds later, and it quickly goes up in flames. The fire destroyed at least three other cars that were parked around it.

The cause of the explosion remains unknown. We’ve seen Teslas go up in flames before, but it has almost always been after a high-speed accident. It’s a risk every car regardless of powertrain type faces; the fire usually starts when a flammable component, like a battery pack or a fuel tank, gets punctured. The scenario captured on film in Shanghai is highly unusual because the Model S wasn’t moving, and it doesn’t look like it was hit by another object.

Determining precisely what happened will require examining how the car was driven prior to entering the parking garage, and how it has been maintained over the course of its life. The data logs that every Tesla on the road generates will provide investigators with valuable information.

“After finding out about the incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent a team to the scene. We are currently contacting relevant departments to understand the situation. Based on current information, no one was hurt,” Tesla wrote on its official Weibo account. Digital Trends has reached out to the company for comment, and we’ll update this story when we hear back.

An electric ES8 crossover made by Nio, one of Tesla’s rivals, also caught fire in China. The incident happened in the city of Xi’an while the car was being worked on. Nio is looking into the cause of the blaze, and it will release its findings when it reaches a conclusion. The two fiery incidents are similar, and they happened just days apart in the same country, but they’re completely unrelated.

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