A crazy thing happened this Sunday. Supposedly, a Tesla vehicle, brand new Model S caught on fire according to the owner while he was driving it home after taking delivery. However, Tesla says that a bullet was fired into the battery pack from the passenger cabin.
It actually happened way back on December 31st of 2014 but it’s only been found out now because of the filed lawsuit against Tesla.
John Schneider from Pennsylvania took delivery of his Model S that day and in the lawsuit filed with the court of common pleas, he explains what actually happened while he was driving it back:
“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.”
He also said that you could see the flames from the outside the vehicle and the fire totally destroyed the Model S.
During that time, a few other Tesla vehicles caught on fire in a few very publicized cases and what happened afterwards was pretty intriguing.
Seems like Tesla was on watch for any possible fire ever since Tesla’s manager decided to contact Schneider the same day after the Model S was “throwing some faults with the battery”.
As per the claim, Tesla sent specialists to take the vehicle that day and begin their examination.
During those 5 days, Tesla immediately offered a deal to Schneider to stay silent about his Model S bursting into flames and consequently, they offered to deal with his loan and very soon get him another vehicle with a free extended warranty.
Here’s the agreement that Schneider signed at Tesla’s request:
When Tesla gave Schneider a loaner meanwhile preparing his new vehicle, that’s when things got even more interesting.
Half a month later, the automaker finished its examination concerning the reason for the fire and it claims that the battery pack burst into flames since somebody shot a bullet into it: “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.”
On January 21, 2015, Tesla sent an official letter cancelling the first deal officially because of the new finding:
However, Schneider disagreed with Tesla’s cancellation of the deal and that because of the company, he ended up in losses due to his loan on the vehicle that he didn’t even own anymore.
The case was soon resolved in the court, however, no one really knows the details of the final resolution.
Here’s the full lawsuit:
It’s one crazy story, we have to admit. The situation is quite unimaginable where someone would shoot a bullet towards a battery pack inside the passenger cabin of a car right after taking delivery.
However, Tesla did find the actual bullet and it’s true that the owner said the fire came from the passenger cabin at the level of back seat.
Either way, it’s a good thing to remember when we hear once again about other Tesla fires without any apparent accident. And, statistically, electric vehicles don’t catch on fire more than gas-powered cars.
With that in mind, it’s rather concerning that batteries could have thermal runaway events without anything triggering them. That’s why Tesla even does these sorts of examinations when a vehicle catches on fire without an apparent reason.