2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in Tesla

image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Seven months and seven days into our test of the 2013 Tesla Model S and we have driven the car over 10,000 miles.

Read the full story here



  • rock2155rock2155 Member Posts: 20
    Thanks for that article, great info here. Again, being able en enlarge the pic would be very useful... Thanks!
  • actualsizeactualsize Member Posts: 451
    Update 1: Unconfirmed reports suggest the most recent fire occurred after the vehicle struck "a trailer hitch." The size and style of hitch is not described, but even the most basic, best-case 2-inch receiver-style ball mount and attached 2-inch ball would represent a big hunk of steel that could do some real damage.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    Donna - thanks for those hi-res images. I'd like to see some statistics on Tesla fires per mile or some other useful metric. I suspect it will be much lower than the fire rate in ICEs.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 18,903
    If it's supposed to be armor, maybe the part doesn't meet specs.
    2023 Ford Explorer ST, 91 Mustang GT vert
  • applecar22applecar22 Member Posts: 1
    I understand the interest in these incidents given the newness of the technology involved and the high public profile of the product and the manufacturer. This article is also to be commended for its objectivity. However, it would interesting to know about the frequency of fires in cars with conventional powerplants, particularly luxury cars in accident situations. Such information would allow the public to put the Tesla incidents in the proper perspective. Most of us don't seem to have much concern driving around with thin plastic tanks full of gasoline hanging unprotected under our vehicles which would seem to be at least as vulnerable as batteries behind quarter inch thick metal.
  • actualsizeactualsize Member Posts: 451
    Agreed, but the number of Tesla incidents is still low enough (3) that a good comparison can't yet be made, even though data on gas-powered cars is quite mature. Certainly gas powered cars have a number of potential fire sources: gas tank, gas lines, refuelling piping, underhood fuel system leak, oil cooler lines, transmission cooler lines, exhaust system (including catalyst), power steering lines, wiring harness and underhood electricals, 12V battery. An EV seems to have fewer sources: battery pack, power cabling, 12V battery, wiring harness and underhood electricals. That may or may not mean a fire is less likely, but there seem to be fewer "pain points" for the engineers to deal with. And based on what we've seen so far a ruptured gasoline tank, if it ignites, is a far more unpredictable and violent event than a smoldering battery that, in these incidents, at least, doesn't appear to spread rapidly outward from the affected cell and consume the entire battery pack. But, again, three is still a small sample size, and millions of road miles of data is not nearly as much as trillions of road miles of data.

    Twitter: @Edmunds_Test

  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    I think it is time to put MythBusters on the case.
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    I'd hate to join the speculation frenzy, because if there's one thing economics tells you, its that people's reaction to an event can easily become more harmful than the event itself. Besides the actual fire risk itself, I don't see too much of a problem here. The battery probably isn't the initial problem, and a somewhat-light aluminum skid plate could easily protect the problematic components. I look forward to hearing a hype-less description of the problem once it is found.
  • cobrysoncobryson Member Posts: 110
    This is a fantastic and informative post...please keep it up guys! I read some about the third fire today, but I really appreciate having a concise, accurate rundown of the three incidents coupled with first-hand knowledge with the car. Thanks a ton.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    Since Elon Musk and his team had at one point put out a BS-calling article on the NYTimes, if there's confidence in the vehicle's design I'd expect them to publish the teardown results when they look at the car. The other thing too is that NHTSA is now casting their eyes towards the recent incidents (which they do when any number of complaints start pouring in for any vehicle), and we'll see if they have anything to say about modifications to future electric vehicle design regulations. It's a bit odd that you would have a piece of metal actually able to pierce the battery pack through the plating, and it makes me wonder too if there's any ancillary devices that can cause a fire or stress the batteries. I'm assuming the electrical system is robust and has its own short circuit protections (i.e. fuses), I'm assuming the refrigerant is still R134A instead of the more flammable R1234YF. What about the coolant? Believe it or not, coolant can actually start a fire too, it can short the battery out in no time. The high profile incident involving the pole-vaulted piece seems to suggest that it was a chemical fire as the firefighters had an issue trying to put the flames out, so in that case at least it did seem like there was an issue with the batteries.
  • markinnaples_markinnaples_ Member Posts: 251
    Maybe they should consider a carbon fiber shield/cover to protect the batteries from road debris damage?

    Light weight and high strength with a little flexibility.
  • noburgersnoburgers Member Posts: 500
    Thanks, Dan for going the extra mile and removing the shield and taking the photos. A lot went into creating this one blog. And, you have the responses to go with it. Beats the heck out of the mileage updates--someone suggested the tabular one-post of the old days, a good suggestion.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    @markinnaples: CF= shatter on impact. You'd want a different kind of less brittle plastic, or metal unless they make it somewhat thick.
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    Hey - Maybe the 'ominous noise' from 3 weeks ago was road debris, and Tesla's MO is to just replace the drivetrain. The fire cars couldn't get to the dealer in time for the repair.
  • danwat1234danwat1234 Member Posts: 27
    I have 100% confidence in this car. I'm sure Tesla will address this and strengthen battery protection so this will be way less apt to happen and recall (or service bulletin) all Model S's. The curb weight might go up in order to protect the battery, but it is worth it.
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