On Friday, West Wing actress Mary McCormack posted a video of her Tesla Model S bursting into flames on West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard. McCormack tweeted:
“No accident, out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Thank you to the kind couple who flagged [my husband] down and told him to pull over. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him.”
Thankfully, no one was injured. But Friday’s report of a Tesla spontaneously bursting into flames has battery-operated car owners sitting on the edge of their seats.
Car manufacturers have a history of cutting corners in the area of safety to pull bigger profits. Unnecessary and unacceptable post-collision fuel fed fires have cost too many lives. But this recent Tesla fire is different.
Car Battery Fires Could Increase with Profit Pressure
Tesla vehicles have caught fire after collisions. But, until now, the electric vehicle manufacturer has been relatively free of problems with spontaneous battery fires.
Car battery fires can be more difficult to extinguish than gasoline fires, and, as in McCormack’s case, can go completely unnoticed at first. Firefighters are currently being trained to deal with car battery fires, but they have to get to the scene first.
While spontaneous car battery fires haven’t been a major problem in the past, we may be seeing them crop up in the future.
In June, Tesla cut 9% of Tesla’s workforce.
Last January, Business Insider reported that Tesla was having problems with the production of its expensive car batteries. Tesla employees were complaining that the electric automaker was allowing inexperienced workers to perform quality control procedures – telling CNBC reporters that Tesla batteries were “leaving the factory with a potentially serious defect.”
GM: Wrongful Death Suits Cheaper Than Protective Shields
Some automakers have a history of increasing profit by selling unsafe vehicles.
In the early 1970’s, GM engineers were excited about discovering new ways to prevent post-collision fuel-fed fires. They decided that in any crash where the occupants survived, there should be no fire. “If the flesh and bone survive,” they said, “the metal ought to.”
They worked hard to design cars so that fuel systems would be able to survive the same impact forces that a human body could survive.
But when executives discovered it would cost GM a couple of dollars more to install protective fuel tank shields than to pay lawsuits arising out of fuel-fed fire deaths, someone at GM pulled the plug on the safety shield installations.
John Uustal is a Florida based defective auto and product trial lawyer representing people seriously injured by products produced by uncaring corporations and their profits over consumer safety policies.