"World's Safest Car" To Get Underbody Blast Shield To Avoid Embarrassing Car-B-Q Moments

Tyler Durden's picture

Once upon a time, Tesla's Model S was supposedly the world's safest car. Then a few of them spontaneously combusted either in the comfort of their own garage, or while doing the unthinkable, i.e., driving over pieces of debris on the road, and questions emerged just how much money was used to bribe the NHTSA which had rushed to proclaim the Model S the safest car it has ever tested without apparently doing any actual testing. Today questions of NHTSA bribes re-emerged louder than ever after NHTSA reported earlier it had "closed an investigation into fires involving electric sports car maker Tesla Motors Inc's popular Model S sedans after finding no "defect trend." Obviously a forced recall by Tesla would have promptly shifted the spontaneous combustion from merely its cars to its all important for marketing purposes stock price.

Yet there was one person who did not quite agree with NHTSA's assessment: Tesla boss Elon Musk.

Elon Musk, chief executive and founder of Tesla, announced on Friday that all Model S cars – the company’s top model – manufactured from this month will be fitted with a triple underbody shield.

Because, you see, the "world's safest car" needs what is effectively a bomb blast shield planted in the floor. Just in case.

In a blog post on Medium , Mr Musk said the company decided to fit the shield to reduce the risk further. It follows an “over-the-air” software update to increase the ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds to reduce the odds of a severe underbody impact.

What risk? Isn't the Model S the world's safest car... at least in those times when it is not burning uncontrollably of course.

Mr Musk said Tesla would also retrofit the shields, free of charge, to existing cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.


Although he noted there have been no casualties as a result of the fires, Mr Musk wrote: “We felt it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind.”


During the course of 152 vehicle level tests the company found the shields prevented any damage that could cause a fire or penetrate the plate that already protects the battery pack.


We have tried every worst-case debris impact we can think of, including hardened steel structures set in the ideal position for a piking event, essentially equivalent to driving a car at highway speed into a steel spear braced on the tarmac,” Mr Musk wrote.

And yet one piece of stray metal allegedly managed to lead to this:


One thing is certain: if after the inclusion of what is effectively a mafia-style bomb blast shield Tesla's continue to have occasional Car-B-Q moments, it will be far more difficult for the damage control brigade to come up with excuses. Which, of course, is all an enterprising arb, who buys the car and "hedges" with a few million in puts really needs for one of the best possible pair trade returns in 2014.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Deathrips's picture

When does it get a fire extinguisher? Will that be bullish for the stock? LOL



StacksOnStacks's picture

I think it needs it's own Sprinkler System.

Manthong's picture

Maybe if they just put some Obama-Solyndra tubes or Obama-A123 Batteries in them everything would be better – the assets can probably be had pretty cheaply.

Just keep it in the Obama Hope-for-Technology family.


Tesla just a tax-funded government project


redpill's picture

I'd still buy one before I'd buy a Chevy.

Headbanger's picture

Teslas will be collector cars in 20 years like Delorens and that's about it.

And what happens to a Tesla when it get hits by lighting???

I bet they didn't do that test!

They need to just put in a big "core eject" spring to shoot the burning battery pack out the back

Deathrips's picture

Oil makes those cars and the are charged by oil or oil produced energy systems. How again are these things "enviro friendly"? They use more than gas in life cycle analysis, than gas powered vehicles. MOPE



TruthInSunshine's picture

The bigger problem is the ACTUAL range of any Tesla when it's either above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or below 28 degrees Fahrenheit (hint, the already relatively short range drops by 33% to as much as 50%, respectively - according to AAA).

100 miles to 130 miles on a full charge is not going to cut it in many parts of the country, whether Houston or Chicago.

mjcOH1's picture

"I think it needs it's own Sprinkler System."


Halon....alkali metals cook right well when exposed to water.  

It's a win-win.   Snuff the fire.  Snuff the irate owner   Resell the car.

Matt's picture

Those new military sonic-magnetic extinguishers would be pretty slick.

Renewable Life's picture

Jesus christ, here we go again with the Telsa onslaught!! Last week, some Obama approved GM CEO announces that after fighting for 20 years in court and fucking denying they had anything to do with 350+ burn deaths of mothers, fathers, and children in fucking GM automobiles, the BITCH admits it, says SHE'S SORRY, and GM is going to "turn the page"!!!!!

Are you fucking serious???? 350+ human beings get cooked to death, and NOT A FUCKING PEEP ON THIS BLOG about boycotting GM AND Ford got hit 10 years ago for billions in damages for the same fucking thing and they never would admit it!! Now fast forward to Telsa in 2013-2014 and you have less then a dozen cars ignite, NO FUCKING BODY IS HURT OR INJURED, and we are going to keep talking about this, like its the greatest automobile ripoff in history!!!

GO DRIVE THE FUCKING CAR (Tyler) PEOPLE, before you keep this bullshit nonsense up! I've driven it, its off the fucking hook, its like NO OTHER car on earth, its the real deal, and I'm sorry the oil industry and all the confused sheepple of the world can't see it or figure it out!  And I get if you don't want to drive it, or buy it, or fucking look at it, but stop the bullshit progaganda about how bad it is then. 

Wannabee's picture

+100 RL
I was going to rant but you said it much better than I.

Isotope's picture

I will repeat a quote that I used before from Peter Delorenzo of Autoextremist.com:

"We all know Elon is a genius and that Tesla is the miracle of the new automotive world, but the fact remains that the miracle workers at Tesla skipped a step. It’s something that GM – you know, that tired old rust-belt auto company from a bygone era – learned while developing the Volt. The GM engineering team zeroed in on a critical area of concern with the Volt’s batteries when it came to protecting them upon impact, something like, “Gee, if someone were to really crash one of these things there could be a problem with the batteries, so, we better do something about it.” So the GM development team triple-wrapped the Volt battery pack to reduce the chance of “piercing” during accidents."

Matt's picture

The problem with containing the batteries, is the explosion will be worse, and/or the fire will go any-which way. As I understand it, the original philosophy with the Tesla is that the bottom was not shielded, but there is shielding between the batteries and passenger compartment, so that the fire is directed away from the occupants.

Citxmech's picture

GM being completely fucked-up does not make Tesla's fuck-ups any less important.  That's like saying:  "This liar is honest because he didn't lie as badly as that guy over there."

Matt's picture

How is it a fuck-up? What happens to a gasoline powered car if a piece of metal impales the gasoline tank with 20 tons of force? Or are you one of those people who "helpfully" suggests maybe the whole airplane should be made out of the blackbox?

BandGap's picture

The car might be fine but the batteries ARE NOT FULLY tested. I'm glad you enjoyed your test drive.

The battery technology needs to get to the next generation OR strict, very strict, controls MUST be used when they are manufactured.

Matt's picture

The batteries are tested. This is as good as it gets using Lithium and (I think) Cobalt Oxide together to make a battery. Great energy density, but self-oxidizing in case of fire, and water makes it worse. 

Safer batteries will almost certainly have lower energy density, thus either dropping range or increasing the weight and cost of the vehicle.

Maybe microwave transmitter towers sending energy uni-directionally to wireless powered cars is the way of the future, less captial intensive than putting power rails over all the roads.

sheikurbootie's picture

I'll add to RL's diatribe, stop already with the fucking "eat the rich" anthem too.  I'm nearly rich and would dispatch everyone of you peasant motherfuckers that attempt to eat me....  Go drive your tricked out fucking fart can Honda Civics and go fuck the fuck off. 


PacOps's picture

My 30 something daughter and I had a discussion about apologies this morning and how often I hear them now not only from her but everywhere in our society. Recently I sent written instructions to an escrow company on how to distribute some money. They did not follow my written instructions. When challenged I was told that they way they did it was quicker and that the girl who processed it had apologized. I said it was not about the speed of the transaction but following instructions! Anyway I pointed out to my daughter that we were from different eras - and asked her if she would like to know what we called people in Vietnam who were always apologizing. (I spent 4 years incountry - 66-70) - she bit ... those people, I said to her, were either about to get someone killed or were already dead. She said my point was well taken.

JuliaS's picture

Anyone who buys a Tesla deserves a Tesla.

Deathrips's picture

Junkers that junk without explanation, are cowards!



quintago's picture

Debris spotting is the new it

666's picture

After this modification, the USSA military will be buying Model S Teslas since they will be perfect armed personnel carriers able to survive land mines and other obstacles. This could be the new secret weapon Obummer needs for the upcoming war in the Ukraine.

Emergency Ward's picture

The next model will have built-in recycled halon globes.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

Still safer than a Ferrari or Porsche Carrera GT..  I bet Paul Walker's family would rather he'd been in a Tesla.


We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario.

Which other car is safer than that?
Libertarian777's picture

i'm interested to see when someone sprays water on a lithium based fire.

Big Brother's picture

Clearly, one cannot test for all possible risk conditions.  But really?  Someone on the engineer team needs to address "small puncture hole in chassis leads to complete unit conflagaration" in their DFMEA.  Damn those flames are high!

Let me know when said DFMEA is subpenaed by the NHTSA.  Until then, this is Edward Norton, risk-analysis-as-usual ala  "Fight Club".

BandGap's picture

The metal punctured the anode or cathode material, introducing air and water vapor into a system required to be anhydrous to function normally. It was a chain reaction and I would not doubt that it got hot enough to melt the metal frame. No shit this requires a blast shield, better be a great heat insulator which I bet it is.

Big Brother's picture

The metal punctured the anode or cathode material, introducing air and water vapor into a system required to be anhydrous to function normally. <--- Mechanical root cause

It was a chain reaction and I would not doubt that it got hot enough to melt the metal frame. No shit this requires a blast shield, better be a great heat insulator which I bet it is.  <----  Long-term corrective action.

In hindsight the TESLA safty team probably did not proceed with the right battery of tests with the sole result of making the car explode.

cougar_w's picture

I kinda don't get the ZH jihad against Tesla. Just let the market figure this one out, okay? You are starting to sound a little bit wound-up and dare I say it -- like a disgruntled nanny.

Shad_ow's picture

Is reporting a problem now considered a jihad?  Is that why the MSM won't report the intentional destruction of America?

Matt's picture

hundreds of times as many gasoline cars burst on fire, but how many articles have you seen on Zerohedge about that, compared to dozens about Tesla?

ParkAveFlasher's picture

I'm not junking you, but I believe the Tyler thesis regards the overpricing of Tesla's presence in the stock market

Each morning I commute passed the the Tesla repair center  at 49-62 Van Dam St in Long Island City, that's under the LIE approach to the midtown tunnel.  If you told me that the building and lot belonged to Aconcagua Auto Body or Tex Mex Auto Glass Tint-Outs, I would believe you more readily than if you had told me it belonged to a well-known cutting-edge tech-industrial outfit in the billion-dollar class.  I mean, they don't even clean up the styrofoam around the perimeter fence.  The only indicator that all is not as it seems is all the Teslas in the parking lot, and the fact that the mechanics are young white men.  Fancy that!

cougar_w's picture

An article titled "25 reasons Tesla stock is overpriced" would make sense. I might read it with interest.

The rest of this just looks liie someone with a short position who's trying to talk the stock down.

What, is ZH now Road&Track? Why do I care about the actual car? If I want to buy the stock, then maybe tell me why the company fundamentals cannot justify the price or why the industry segment is toxic, but apart from that most people buy stocks in companys whose products they will never own nor even know anything about.

I am a friend of ZH. I contribute here a lot. I can tell my friend when he's had enough to drink and just go home, buddy.

That's just how I roll.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

I think that if you admire Musk for innovation, you should be warned that he might be made a sacrificial lamb. 


cougar_w's picture

I don't know the guy and don't care to know him. Guys don't matter much, they come and go, industries and ideas remain. I think the car design is "interesting", if enough others agree then the price of the stock goes up. If not, it goes down.

Or have I missed something?

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

"25 Reasons Tesla stock is overpriced" would be a waste of time to read; anybody with above-room-temperature IQ knows how and why that stock is overpriced.

IT'S A FUCKING ELECTRIC CAR. 120-year old technology whose EROEI doesn't pencil out. It is a car for rich people who don't mind grossly overpaying for their toys. Because it is a toy, not a serious transportation alternative for people who live on an actual budget.

Unfortunately, the stock price rests on the assumption that it is a serious transportation product. Which it most definitely is not.

There, I just wrote the article. Satisfied?

cougar_w's picture

So you just wrote an article about the habits and weaknesses of rich people.

You should write another about why nobody should buy a Gulfstream G280 personal jet. I mean, the EROEI is in the shitter. Or a Bugatti Veyron, who needs like a million horsepower, what the actual fuck.

This is their game. Let them play it. Who cares. Seriously.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Are you fucking serious??? You wanted to know why the stock was overpriced, and I told you. Now you go off on some fucking tangent about why rich people have their heads up their ass?

cougar_w's picture

You think the stock is overpriced because rich people are buying the car as well as the stock, and you think they should not be buying the car because you would not buy it yourself, so the stock is overpriced.


Moving on.

NotApplicable's picture

Isn't Tesla merely a carbon-credit selling success story? (i.e. "a scam")

Oh, and last night I saw that 60 Minutes is doing a feature on Tesla this weekend. (some might call that a "Tell")

AFAIK, I'm still waiting for the first "green" technology company that isn't yet another example of Rent Seeking 101. How much free money has Tesla gotten from Uncle Sugar, again?

(btw, I didn't junk you either (though I should've, for your belief that Tesla is a market driven entity ;) ))

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

It's a bunch of whiny short bitches.  Nothing of value is lost by ignoring them.

fooshorter's picture

Omg Somebody is actually innovating something and producing something real rather then fucking trading meaingless paper! Lets flame them as they have growing pains!  

And the big three NEVER had problems.... right.

cougar_w's picture

Most of the autos I see burning along side the freeway are Japanese imports!

Oh wait ... most of the cars moving on the freeway are Japanese imports, too.

No matter, I have a point and I'll get around to it eventually, once I've decided what it is!

NaN's picture

Yeah, cars burn all the time. It just proves how much energy is stored inside and provides that extra thrill that a loud, tuned exhaust cannot touch.

H2 powered cars will be even more thrilling, but less picturesque because H2 is barely visible when it burns, like the space shuttle main engines.

cougar_w's picture

Turns out, we're all kind of stupid that way.

JuliaS's picture

The thing that makes gasoline cars more efficient than electrics is that they only one of the ingredients needed for combustion. An average car, as far as I recall, uses about 80kg of oxygen to the tank. That's the weight it doesn't have to carry, because the air already contains it. Gasoline mixture does not combust at room temperature, meaning it can be transported in a cheap, light-weight container.

An extra bonus is that as the car drives, it gets lighter with reduction in the amount of gasoline.

An electric has to transport a double set of reagents - heavy ones. They weigh the same, whether the car is charged or empty. Many ingredients that go into the batteries act as catalysts, conductors and insulators. The batteries themselves have to be sealed to prevent the chemicals from freely reacting with eachother. All that results in an elephant-worth of dead weight. Sure the car ends up being simpler on the inside, but the tires and brakes wear out a lot quicker, and which 2 parts an average car owner replaces most frequently? You bet! Tires and brakes!

An electric car is an expensive toy for rich people. If they can afford it - good for them.

As I've said - Tesla owners do deserve what they get.

cougar_w's picture


They get what they want. Every time. And they don't care about the details. Ever.

If that bugs anyone here then find a way to deal with rich people and their perverse sense of entitlement. Because so long as they exist you will have people like Elon Musk selling them a rich man's dream, and worrying about that isn't going to feel very good.

tarsubil's picture

These are toys for the rich and powerful. Pricing of Tesla stock is exhibit ZZQ for how the market is completely fucked.

cougar_w's picture

So? Who cares what the stock is?

Phone call, it's for you, someone called Reality.