The Trouble With Teslas

| November 27, 2021

Tesla Ablaze

Tesla made its name by building electric cars with the most powerful battery packs ever devised, composed of cells made with lithium oxides. This compound makes for the most efficient rechargeable batteries, but is highly volatile.

If damaged, cells in lithium batteries can ignite in a chain reaction called a thermal runaway, fed by the oxygen in the metal oxides known as a Class D fire. These are famously difficult to extinguish.

Since their introduction in the early 1990s, lithium cells in consumer electronics have been involved in string of conflagrations, most notably in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 in 2016, a fiasco that destroyed the rollout of this smartphone at the cost of billions of dollars.

The disaster potential is even greater in large lithium battery packs for electric cars, which contain far more reactive material than consumer electronics cells.

Tesla in Pennsylvania catches fire, flames spread to home

No one was hurt in the incident

By Maria Lencki

Firefighters believe that the back end of the vehicle caught fire, which then leapt onto the attached garage of a Montgomery County home Tuesday night.

The fire was contained in less than a half hour. No one was injured.

Investigators have not yet revealed the cause of the fire, and the amount of damage done to the residence is still unclear.

FOX Business reached out to Tesla, which did not respond before publication.

A rare event, nothing to see here. Oh, wait.

I stopped wearing Nomex after my last military flight, and have no desire to don it again when driving my grocery-getter.

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DiLithium doesn’t do that.


Of course it doesn’t. It’s great stuff.

Unfortunately, it also only exists on TV.




Does that mean the Flux Capacitor would be safe,
or would it explode like a bomblet?


Knowing what I do about Teslas, and how there have been a number of quality issues, I think I could make a fairly educated guess how it started.

Doesn’t take much.


I’ll say this much for Tesla: they make a really hot car!


Drop a 426 Hemi in one and I’ll agree.


I wasn’t exactly referring to the auto’s performance. (smile) Though they do reputedly accelerate like the proverbial bat out of hell.

A Proud Infidel®™


The flames look to real!

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

Lots of problems with those 3rd party lithium (not tesla)batteries that people buy because they are cheap. I get my IPN texts from cities that I have on my phone notifing me of fires, shootings Etc and I see that their are a lot of these batteries on electric bikes and scooters that seem to light up while being charged in peoples homes. Ok, I went off on another tangent so back to the teslas.… Read more »


I know that a friend of mine had to take specialized training on doing extractions from different types of EV – including where NOT to cut to peel the roof back.

Uh… thanks, but no thanks.

E4 Mafia '83-'87

Remember that Pete Butt-gig said that if you can’t afford the high price of gas, just buy an electric car. Doesn’t everyone have $40k lying around?


When I die and go to hell, my eternity will be spent stuck behind a Prius doing 5mph under the limit.


I fully support Elon Musk (especially in his sparring sessions with Brandon Poopy-Pants), and I hope he can correct this issue. Full disclosure, I own stock in Tesla. Every technology has issues. A runaway gun situation on the M2 is a terrifying prospect (I’ve only ever experienced it on a smaller weapon, when I could rip the belt – انشاء الله); but ol’ Ma Deuce will always be invited on any foreign trip for which… Read more »


The only real problems I have with Teslas – or any pure EV, for that matter – are the following: (1) Federal subsidies out the wazoo – manufacturing, tax breaks, free recharge stations, etc . . . . I resent being forced to pay, even in part, for someone else’s automobile trips. (2) They’re being sold as a “drop in” replacement for hydrocarbon powered vehicles. Really? Just try and make it cross-country in 3 or… Read more »


I agree with you, on every point. That will likely change with time, as technology improves – but it will be people like Musk who make that happen as long as they’re not handcuffed. Whether it’s the bodkin arrowhead, gunpowder, the internal combustion engine, the Internet, smartphones, or whatever, disruptive technology disrupts the status quo. Electric vehicles aren’t the answer to global energy concerns or climate change, but gasoline is in her twilight years. I’d… Read more »


A better solution would be for vehicles to use modified ICEs powered by hydrogen, with said hydrogen generated by nuclear power – or perhaps powered by fuel cells running on same. We have much of the infrastructure to support that in-place today. (We’d need a significant R&D effort regarding avoiding hydrogen embrittlement to use modified ICEs, though.) Unfortunately, we fornicated Fido (AKA “screwed the pooch”) and missed that opportunity during the Peanut Years (AKA the… Read more »


As a pilot, I can forsee all sorts of mid-air collisions. The only reason our air traffic control system works, and is relatively safe, is because there are few aircraft buzzing around our skies. Imagine what our skies would look like over major cities if every Tom, Dick and Harry had a flying car. We can’t keep people from running into each other in two dimensions. How are we going to do it in three… Read more »


I flew those. But my fave “flying car” was a Mooney M20J. However, the Trinidad TB20 actually has gull-wing doors; had a not properly latched one blow open on take-off–pretty exciting.


Flying cars are very doable. Landing cars, not so much.


1.21 Gigawatts, Marty! (Especially with the hover conversion and Mr. Fusion, but… )


With enough ANFO, any car can fly.

Once, anyway.


I will agree that nuclear is the only feasible alternative to fossil fuels that we can access on the necessary scale, today.

Shit like Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island, unfortunately, grant legitimate pause to the layman voter.

Slow Joe

What happened in 3-mile island?

Nobody died there, as far as I can tell.


The impact was considerably less than alarmists expected, but the incident alone was enough to support activist concerns.

Hack Stone

And gave rise to MUSE, Musicians United for Safe Energy, led by Granola Boy Jackson Browne, who, when he is not beating the shit out of Daryl Hannah, is busy saving the world from the evils of Nuclear Energy. Had a High School friend who went all in that shit because Jackson Browne told him it was bad for the environment. Of course, this was the same guy who would drive around aimlessly in the… Read more »


I love his music but, like most musicians, he should stick to music.

If he has something to add to the political landscape, run for office or find some other way to get into the political realm. Nothing about being a celebrity grants any special insight into anything beyond whatever one’s celebrated for.


Like LeBron should stick to playing ball (which includes grabbin’ his crotch and cussin’ on TV, gettin’ fined/suspended, etc. Lately).


If no one had showed up to work that day, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

Also, benzene from gasoline is a worse carcinogen (both in terms of frequency and amount) than anything produced by TMI that day.

You can count on your fingers how many have died from nuclear power plant radiological mishaps in the US of A.


Hey, if we could get the Back to the Future DeLorean powered by Mr. Fusion that’d be ideal.


I wonder who will be held responsible should charging stations become available to drive cross country, somebody decides to go to Yosemite or Yellowstone for example, and their car catches fire and burns a couple hundred, thousand or million acres.

Will All-State cover that? Inquiring minds and all that.

A Proud Infidel®™

NOT just that, but say someone in an electric car gets stuck in a wintertime traffic jam, not only does cold weather sap the batteries, but can said Driver go get a jug or two of electricity to pour in the batteries to get home? Methinks not.


Someday the interstate will have a third rail.
I’ll be dead.

Hack Stone

Just have The Biden Administration install chicken wire over highway, attach the a pole to the rear of your car, and cruise down the Interstate as if you were operating a bumper car.

A Proud Infidel®™

Killer flame job on that Tesla! AS TO electric cars, I still remember when the pimping of them started in the early 70’s when I was a young skull full of mush in Elementary School, but back then we had environmental issues that were MUCH worse. So if they’re the environmental panacea that libnutz say they are, then WHY are there diesel-powered recharge stations in a number of places where one can plug their pwecious… Read more »

A Proud Infidel®™

I’ll just stick with my V8-powered 4WD Pickup for now!


The above home being damaged by an electric car fire is not the first. Several years ago a Fisker luxury sedan caught fire in Arizona; it not only severely damaged the owner’s home, the garage fire also incinerated his $250K Ferrari that was parked next to the Fisker.


But the virtue signaling is soooo cool!


One of the surest ways to buy a major writeup during inspections in the 80s was to not properly annotate where the lithium batteries were packed when palletizing equipment for airlift.


Cue The Doors “Light my fire”


Candle in the wind?



Let’s see. According to the NFPA in 2018 An estimated 212,500 vehicle fires caused 560 civilian deaths and 1,500 civilian injuries; and $1.9 billion in direct property damage in the US during 2018. There is about one fire for every 200 Million miles traveled, which is a fraction of the number of fires that gasoline powered vehicles are involved in. Gasoline powered vehicles burn at a rate of a about a dozen times more often… Read more »


Now tell me how many gasoline powered cars suddenly burst into flame for no apparent reason while parked in the garage. I’ll bet you dollars to dogturds your numbers drop exponentially. And I’m also willing to bet you the firefighters of TAH would rather fight a gas fire than an inaccessible self-oxidizing battery fire.


uh. “This makes [gasoline-powered vehicles] very dangerous [if] the tank becomes compromised.” If we want to compare apples-to-apples here, can you tell when/if a cell is damaged and/or in a volatile state while in a battery assembly without major destructive testing? How does this compare to the ‘compromised’ fuel tank? I don’t have a dog in this fight save I’m tired of subsidizing these unicorn fart projects, and yeah, I’ll throw fracking under that bus… Read more »


Also from the same NFPA as provided; “Electric vehicle fires While hybrid and electric vehicles have become more common, existing data collection systems have not yet adequately captured the frequency of fires involving these specific vehicles. In a recently published Fire Technology invited paper, Sun, Bisschop, Niu, and Huang provided a comprehensive overview of battery fires in electric vehicles.20 Most fire incidents involving battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles began in the battery… Read more »



Different fuel system, different problem set.

My point is that if the complaint is vehicle fires than vehicle fires occur much less often in Teslas than in ICE vehicles. Vehicle fires are a fact of life unless the vehicle is a bicycle.


I don’t understand your statement: “Different fuel system”. Care to explain. The statement “My point is that if the complaint is vehicle fires than vehicle fires occur much less often in Teslas than in ICE vehicles” is contradicted by the article YOU PROVIDED: “While hybrid and electric vehicles have become more common, existing data collection systems have not yet adequately captured the frequency of fires involving these specific vehicles.”… unless you’re walking around with a… Read more »


It would help if you read everything. That portion of that article in the March 2020 Vehicle Fire addresses ALL types of hybrid and EV’s. Tesla doesn’t make hybrids and doesn’t address the safety of other manufacturers. In that context, that statement makes sense. I don’t know what the numbers are for Chevy Volts for example but they had a manufacturing defect that resulted in a recall due to a lot of fires. So did… Read more »


So you’re extrapolating post-crash fire hazards and conflating it with safety? Got it. I’m not going to address your fuel comment, but I see you. If you want to drive one of those spontaneous road flares, that’s on you bud. There is no indication that these vehicles provide any additional safety over ICEVs. Again, I don’t care if you want to drive one of these things. I am absolutely tired of paying tax dollars to… Read more »


All higher end vehicles are about PsyOps. You don’t think people really buy a Corvette because they are practical or they want to go almost as fast as a Tesla? BTW – I never said they were safer. If you drew that conclusion you are on your own. I’ll repeat what I said earlier that vehicle fires are much more rare in a Tesla than in an ICE vehicle. There is a lot more to… Read more »

Hack Stone

If you want an environmentally friendly automobile, may Hack Stone suggest an 1980’s vintage Jaguar? The Vice President of the proud but humble woman owned business that sells software to the federal government formerly located in Bethesda Maryland drives one, and you can actually see it biodegrade right before your eyes. And the carbon footprint is nearly zero, as most of the time it is inoperable.