Elon Musk has taken to Medium to announce that the Tesla Model S- already perhaps the safest car in the world when it comes to vehicle fire- is seeing a round of improvements aimed at even more fire protection:
The odds of fire in a Model S, at roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles, are five times lower than those of an average gasoline car and, when a fire does occur, the actual combustion potential is comparatively small. However, to improve things further, we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, substantially reducing the odds of a severe underbody impact.
Nonetheless, we felt it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind. Starting with vehicle bodies manufactured as of March 6, all cars have been outfitted with a triple underbody shield. Tesla service will also retrofit the shields, free of charge, to existing cars upon request or as part of a normally scheduled service.
During the course of 152 vehicle level tests, the shields prevented any damage that could cause a fire or penetrate the existing quarter inch of ballistic grade aluminum armor plate that already protects the battery pack. We have tried every worst case debris impact we can think of, including hardened steel structures set in the ideal position for a piking event, essentially equivalent to driving a car at highway speed into a steel spear braced on the tarmac.
Once you get over how insanely cool it is that a car can receive an over-the-air update to slightly tweak the vehicle's height while moving at certain speeds, take a look at the GIF image below to see how the underside of the Model S handles slamming into a solid concrete block.
Pretty impressive. I must say, while I've grown out of the desire to own a luxury car, I'd love to be the owner of a Tesla. Bottom line: I think it would be close to that kind of innovation in an industry that will see radical change over the next decade. ◉