Last February in Guangzhou, China, a Tesla Model X crashed on a highway at 75 km/h before catching fire. The owner of the vehicle and her boyfriend were sitting in the backseats, their chauffeur in the driver’s seat. They claim that the Falcon doors failed to open after the crash, resulting in them being stuck in the car while the fire took hold of the power cells.
They managed to pull themselves out of the car through the front doors, only suffering minor injuries, but are now suing Tesla for 8 million Chinese yuan ($1,000,000). According to the owner, the driver of the car was badly injured and was hospitalised for upwards of 40 days suffering from internal injuries and fractures. She is also apparently suffering from nightmares and other forms of mental harm.
Tesla China issued are investigating into the crash and issued a statement:
“First of all, the lives of the owner and passengers were not threaten. We are working closely with the department concerned. The distribution of the debris at the site and the damage all indicate that this was a high-speed crash – in this case, not just electric cars, but any vehicle can catch on fire. In fact, another car involved in the accident (a fuel-powered vehicle) also caught on fire. Fuel tank fire incidents happen much more often than the electric car fires.
In addition, Tesla has consistently insisted on the disclosure and transparency of information, including other information about the incident, such as the owner is asking us for 8 million yuan, and we will not accept.”
Tesla have also made it known that there is an emergency release for the Falcon doors located behind the speaker cover which is shown in the owner’s manual. On top of that, it is rumoured that the inhabitants of the vehicle weren’t wearing their seat belts, which would explain the high level of injury at a relatively low speed.
Media outlets have a habit of jumping at the news of an incident involving a Tesla catching fire, although statistics have shown that Teslas catch fire significantly less compared to other fuel burning vehicles and the national average. Specifically, 1 fuel powered car in every 1300-1400 cars on the road set alight, compared to 3 in 20,000 Tesla cars according to the NHTSA
Tesla will continue to work with local authorities and look into this incident, but so far are showing no hint of paying the $1,000,000.