- A faulty battery module was to blame for a Tesla vehicle fire in a Shanghai parking garage in April.
- The flames were captured on security video that appeared to show the car self-igniting. It was not charging at the time.
- Tesla said it has updated the thermal management and charging settings for Model S and X vehicles following its investigation.
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A massive fire caught on video inside a Shanghai parking garage earlier this spring was caused by a faulty battery module, Tesla's internal investigation has concluded.
In a statement on the Chinese social-media site Weibo, the company said it "found no system deficiencies" for the Model S fire in April and has updated the charging and thermal management settings for Model S and X vehicles out of an abundance of caution.
"Through extensive investigations into batteries, software, manufacturing data, and vehicle historical data, we found no system deficiencies and initially determined that the individual incident was caused by a single battery module failure at the front of the vehicle," Tesla said in Chinese on it's official account on Friday.
"After the first smoke, the battery pack safety system, as designed, controls the fire in a specific module of the battery and expels heat to the outside of the cabin and outside the module, leaving the rest of the battery pack intact. Personnel in the car should have time to safely leave the vehicle."
Tesla's battery modules are sets of battery cells joined together. Those individual cells are produced by Panasonic in a joint venture between the two companies.
At the time, Shanghai's fire department said it had dispatched 15 fire engines to the scene, where firefighters battled the blaze for just under an hour. Their experience highlights the particular difficulties that electric vehicles, and their batteries, can pose for firefighters around the world.
Battery fires can burn hotter and longer than those of Tesla's gasoline-powered counterparts. Tesla's owndocumentation for first responders says a fire in the Model S can take up to 3,000 gallons of water to establish sufficient cooling for the battery.
According to Reuters,there have been at least 14 instances of Tesla vehicles igniting in the past six years, most of which have occurred after a crash.
"Although the probability of a Tesla electric vehicle fire accident is significantly lower than that of a gasoline vehicle, we will continue to pursue the goal of "small accident rate," Tesla said.
Angela Wang assisted with reporting.
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