It was just days ago that we reported that the NHTSA was opening an inquiry into the use of Tesla's "Smart Summon" feature. Then, just hours ago we followed up by reporting that a petition had been filed with the NHTSA claiming that Tesla was using over the air software updates to cover up dangerous battery issues.
Today, we offer a stark reminder that just because the NHTSA has started to perk up its ears, doesn't mean that Teslas haven't stopped going up in flames all over the world. The most recent example comes from Austria, where after a Tesla was involved in an accident and caught fire, firefighters had to use a special container to transport the remains of the vehicle and the battery.
According to a translated version of this ORF News story, a 57 year old driver lost control of his Tesla and crashed into a tree, after first hitting the guardrail. It was then that the vehicle caught fire.
The driver was lucky, as "people passing by the scene of the accident took the man out of the vehicle and called emergency services."
In order to put out the fire, the street had to be closed and fire authorities had to bring in a container user to cool the vehicle. The container held 11,000 liters (11 tons) of water and was designed to eliminate the biggest risk in an EV accident which is the battery catching fire.
The Tesla battery is mounted on the underside of the vehicle and contains acids and chemicals that can easily escape during a fire, placing the firefighters in danger.
Here is the problem: according to the article, some 11,000 liters of water are needed to finally extinguish a burning Tesla but an average fire engine only carries around 2,000 liters of water.
Fire brigade spokesman Peter Hölzl warned that the car could still catch fire for up to three days after the initial fire.
The container used is said to be suitable for all common electric vehicles. It measures 6.8 meters long, 2.4 meters wide and 1.5 meters high, it is (obviously) waterproof and weighs three tons.
We hope the NHTSA has a nice long hard look at these photos, as it has now become painfully obvious that the fire issue is very real and very dangerous for Tesla. We can only hope that the agency is acting with the expediency necessary to promptly address an issue that is putting lives at risk every day.