A Tesla Model Y reportedly caught fire in late March. The incident took place in a suburban home’s garage just outside Dallas. A local news station by the name of Dallas Texas TV said that the flames from the “Tesla could be seen by everyone in Dallas” and it “basically exploded”.
Debunking Tesla Model Y fire in Dallas, Texas
Tesla Model S Fire in Texas
Tesla Model S was caught on fire last year in Texas itself. However, this incident is very different from other incidents of Teslas catching fire. The car had caught fire towards its front side. This is very peculiar as the front part of the car only houses a storage space. Given the car was parked in a home, its front storage space was most likely empty. The fire department also noted that the battery pack of the Model Y was intact and hadn’t caught fire. The back end of the Tesla was also intact.
This is very odd considering. In other fires which involved Teslas, the entire car was engulfed in flames and burned down. This included the battery pack as well. Therefore, further investigation was done to find out more about the possible causes of the fire. What could have caused the fire? The investigators were perplexed and couldn’t find an answer. This fire was very different from other Tesla fires.
Dallas Texas TV Coverage
Dallas Texas TV also over hyped the incident. Tesla fires are extremely rare. Teslas are safe to drive. The media always tries to blow such incidents up to garner more support for the ICE engine lobby. Sandy Munro, an expert in automobiles stated that the media always concentrates on a handful of Tesla fires while ignoring a large amount of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle fires that occur throughout the year in the United States of America and across the world.
One major cause of Tesla fires is the battery which is in fact the most inflammable part of the entire vehicle. Battery fires can be caused by overcharging the battery pack, improper balancing of charge by the battery management system, short circuit inside the battery pack, a leak of battery anode or cathode material. However, the chances that a battery catches fire due to these causes is rare. All Tesla cars have gone through extensive safety tests and have been rated the highest scores possible for passenger and vehicle safety. Another reason for batteries catching fires is high temperature and extreme heat. This is more common than the other reasons stated. The operating range of Tesla batteries is between -80 degrees Celsius to +60 degrees celsius as claimed by the company. Due to a malfunction or defect, this range might be reduced but it is very rare.
The fire that involved the Tesla Model Y was not due to any of the reasons mentioned above. In fact, the battery pack sustained much higher flame temperatures than its operational range and was left undamaged by the flames.
Tesla Sentry Mode
All Tesla models come with cameras installed on all sides of the cars. These cameras record everything around the car even when it is not turned on and running. This awesome feature is named ‘The Sentry Mode’ by Elon Musk himself. The Sentry Mode used in Teslas was launched in 2019 and used cameras around the vehicle to monitor the environment around the Tesla vehicle. The name Sentry Mode was inspired by the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron in which Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr. takes off his suit and puts it on Sentry Mode to guard him.
The Tesla Sentry Mode also protects the car in a more benign way. It alerts the owner of the car and gives them a live feed of the car anywhere in the world as long as the owner’s phone and the car are both connected to the internet. It also stores the footage in the car’s internal storage space until it is deleted by the owner. This feature of the Tesla Model Y helped ascertain the real cause of the fire and burst false narratives and myths surrounding the fire.
Tesla Model Y Fire
Although the Tesla was damaged beyond repair and had to be taken to the scrap yard, data that was provided by the car’s internal storage showed an interesting recording. The camera at the front end of the car was functional till the fire burned it and its feed was lost. A camera is also placed above the rear view mirror in the car between the two front seats. This camera usually helps the autopilot feature of Tesla cars, which can be bought separately after buying the car, make sense of what’s on the road and how to navigate. The camera’s data is fed to a computer vision software which identifies pedestrians, stop lights, traffic signs, other vehicles on the road, bicycles, scooters and any other obstacles and marks them by putting them inside a box which has different colours as per the type of object. This camera is also recording in Sentry Mode.
The feed from this camera was salvaged on a USB drive when the car was taken to the scrapyard. It showed that the fire that completely destroyed the front end of the car originated in the home and wasn’t caused by any circuitry of the Tesla. In the footage, it can be clearly seen that there is smoke coming out of the window of the house that is in front of the car. Eventually, the fire grabs hold of the car and burns its front end.
USB drive was recovered from this car showing the fire started in the house before jumping to Tesla just as was mostly evident from the outside video https://t.co/o3V8GzAa51 pic.twitter.com/tJ5vUtfWwa
— green (@greentheonly) August 25, 2021
Luckily, firefighters arrived on site quickly and rapidly put out the fire before the Tesla Model Y was turned to ashes. If the Tesla had burned completely, the cause of the fire would most likely have been blamed on Tesla by people in Dallas Texas TV and other news agencies which could have significantly harmed the reputation and image of the company which would surely have had drastic reductions in sales of these premium electric vehicles. Tesla Model Y’s Sentry Mode saved Tesla and Elon Musk from a huge debacle.
Even though the true cause of the fire is ascertained, Dallas Texas TV is yet to retract their previous statement that Tesla “basically exploded”. Such news organisations aside, the matter is now largely over and the owners of the Tesla Model Y are likely on their way to get a new Tesla.