Back in 2014, a Tesla Model S owner claimed that his vehicle had burst into flames while he was driving it home after taking delivery. Four years later, we finally found out how Tesla responded to this claim at the time, revealing what their "internal investigation" uncovered: the company claimed that a bullet was fired into the battery pack of the vehicle from inside of the car.
John Schneider from Pennsylvania took delivery of his Model S on December 31, 2014 when it caught fire, resulting in Schneider eventually filing a lawsuit against the company. In his suit, he claimed smoke and flames began to emit from the rear of the vehicle:
“As Schneider drove the Vehicle in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, smoke, and flames began to emit from the rear seat of the vehicle in the vicinity of the Vehicle’s rear battery cells. Schneider immediately stopped and exited the Vehicle and watched as the rear passenger seat continued to burn.”
As pro-Tesla rag electrek claimed in their writeup of this story, "it look[ed] like Tesla was on high alert for any potential fire" because right after it happened, the company reached out to Schneider and asked about his battery "throwing some faults", which we're guessing is internal industry jargon for busting into flames that engulf the entire vehicle:
Tesla then reportedly stayed on top of the incident, sending engineers to quickly take possession of the vehicle so that the company could start its investigation. After just 5 days, Tesla offered a settlement agreement to Schneider and, in exchange for him keeping quiet, offered to "take care of his loan" and get him a new car with a free extended warranty.
That agreement was signed on January 6, 2015, less than a week after the incident occurred. However, weeks later, the company concluded its investigation of the vehicle and went on to claim that the battery pack caught fire because a bullet had been fired into it from inside the vehicle:
“Tesla has determined that the cause of the thermal event that occurred in the Vehicle’s battery was a bullet fired into the battery from inside the Vehicle’s passenger cabin.”
The company said it was going to revoke Schneider's new car and return his old car, post-fire, back to him. Tesla then claimed they were keeping the bullet and the "relevant battery cells" to "preserve as evidence". They also sent the following letter to Schneider, terminating their original settlement agreement with him and claiming he omitted "material facts" from his story:
In turn, Schneider claimed that he did not agree with Tesla rescinding the original agreement, so he turned around and sued the company. You can read the full text of the lawsuit that was filed by the driver, and eventually settled out of court, below: