Tesla investigates viral video of Model S exploding in parking lot

There have been at least 14 instances of Tesla cars catching fire since 2013, with the majority occurring after a crash.
Image: FILES-US-IT-AUTO-LIFESTYLE-TESLA
A Tesla Model S car by U.S. car maker Tesla is displayed at a store in Brussels on Feb. 8, 2018.Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images file

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/ Source: Reuters
By Reuters

Tesla said it has sent a team to investigate a video on Chinese social media that showed a parked Model S exploding, the latest in a string of fire incidents involving Tesla cars.

The video, time stamped Sunday evening and widely shared on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, shows the parked electric car 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 videos.

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“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 traditional gas-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 accidents.

The latest incident comes as Tesla tries to push sales in China, where its prices were impacted by tit-for-tat tariffs imposed 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.

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 investigated.