After Tesla's latest problem involving a Model S crash in Beijing while in autopilot mode (which has since prompted the carmaker drop remove "autopilot" from its Chinese website), Elon Musk may have to return to a more familiar problem plaguing his vehicles: spontaneous combustion.
According to Electrek, as part of its ‘Electric Road Trip’ tour for the summer, Tesla stopped in Biarritz, France to promote Model S and Model X over the weekend. During a test drive in a Model S 90D, the vehicle suddenly sent a visual alert on the dashboard stating that there was a problem with “charging”. The Tesla employee giving the test drive made the driver park the car on the side of the road and all three (the driver, the Tesla employee and another passenger) exited the vehicle.
The Tesla Model S caught on fire only a moment later (pictured above), according to witnesses. Firefighters arrived quickly on the scene to control the fire, but the vehicle was completely destroyed. The result was reportedly similar to the remains of the Model S that caught fire while Supercharging in Norway earlier this year.
The website adds that it is talking to members of the Tesla Motors Club in France and reaching out to Tesla.
While the traditional Tesla defense applies, namely that while electric vehicle fires are widely reported there’s no evidence that there are any more frequent than gas-powered car fires, what is particularly interesting here – though it could change since the story is still developing – is that previous instances of Tesla vehicles catching fire happened after severe impacts, especially after debris on the road punctured the battery pack at high-speed.
Those incidents stopped after Tesla added a titanium shield on the bottom of the battery pack, but so far there’s been no report of an impact in the case of the fire in France today.
The cause of the fire is still unknown. A Tesla spokesperson sent Electrek the following statement:
"We are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation. The passengers are all unharmed. They were able to safely exit the vehicle before the incident occurred.“
The developing story has yet to hit the mainstream news.