Tesla investigates video of parked Model
S exploding in Shanghai
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[April 22, 2019]
By Brenda Goh and Yilei Sun
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - U.S. electric vehicle
(EV) maker Tesla Inc said it has sent a team to investigate a video on
Chinese social media which showed a parked Tesla Model S car exploding,
the latest in a string of fire incidents involving Tesla's cars.
The video, time stamped Sunday evening and widely shared on China's
Twitter-like Weibo, shows the parked EV emit smoke and burst into flames
seconds later. A video purportedly of the aftermath showed a line of
three cars completely destroyed.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify the origins of the videos,
which Weibo users said were taken in Shanghai.
The cause of the explosion could not be immediately ascertained from the
"We immediately sent a team onsite and we're supporting local
authorities to establish the facts. From what we know now, no one was
harmed," Tesla said in a statement on Monday.
It declined comment further when contacted by Reuters.
There have been at least 14 instances of Tesla cars catching fire since
2013, with the majority occurring after a crash.
The automaker has said its EVs are about 10 times less likely to
experience a fire than petrol-powered cars, based on its fleet of over
500,000 vehicles which have driven more than 10 billion miles. It did
not specify whether the statistic referred to normal use or involving
The latest incident comes as Tesla tries to push sales in China, where
its prices were impacted by tit-for-tat tariffs imposed during Sino-U.S.
trade tensions last year.
The automaker currently imports all the cars it sells in China, but is
building a factory in Shanghai that will initially make its Model 3 and
help reduce the impact of a trade war.
In March, Tesla was also on the receiving end of a labeling mix-up at
Shanghai customs that led to a temporary suspension of clearance for a
batch of Model 3 cars.
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A Tesla logo is seen on a wheel rim during the media day for the
Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly
Analysts said the latest fire incident would likely increase attention
on the safety of EVs but was unlikely to have a significant impact on
Tesla's sales or reputation in China while the cause was being
"Tesla had fire incidents before, but they didn't have a big impact on
its reputation in China," said analyst Alan Kang at LMC Automotive.
"Since its consumer base is not particularly conservative, and China is
pushing the electric vehicle market, if this incident is just
accidental, it will not have a big impact on Tesla," he said.
"Tesla self-ignites" was one of the most popular hashtags on Weibo on
Monday, racking up over 20 million clicks. Some users urged the
automaker to quickly find the cause, whereas others speculated over the
impact to the value of Tesla cars currently on the road. Still more
found humour in the situation.
"One lesson I learnt from the Shanghai self-exploding Tesla: Don't park
your car next to a Tesla," said one commentator.
In a separate, unrelated incident, Tesla's rival in China, Nio, said in
a social media post that an ES8 electric sport utility vehicle caught
fire on Monday in a Nio service center in the central city of Xian while
"Nio has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire,"
Nio said, adding no one was harmed due to the incident.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Yilei Sun; Editing by Christopher Cushing
an Himani Sarkar)
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