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Tesla’s Lightweight Solution to Preventing Model S Fires

The battery protection Tesla has added to the Model S to reduce the chance of fires caused by road debris includes (1) a hollow aluminum deflector bar, (2) a titanium plate and (3) a solid aluminum extrusion. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
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A cloud of doubt lingering over Tesla Motors parted on March 26, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed an investigation of the Model S begun in response to two cars that were destroyed by fires after striking objects on the highway.

In those episodes, the aluminum shielding designed to protect the cars’ lithium-ion battery packs had been pierced by debris, causing what the safety regulators called a “thermal runaway.”

In documents explaining its reasons for ending the investigation, regulators cited Tesla’s planned service campaign to reduce the risk of fires by outfitting the cars with “increased underbody protection.”
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