Today saw the next chapter in the fight between electric car makers and their sometimes fiery batteries: Tesla has offered a mandatory software update to alleviate concerns at some level that their cars have a tendency to be set alight by simple things such as charging or roadway debris. Earlier this year, two Tesla Model S sedans caught fire after hitting foreign objects that punctured the batteries; a third example of the car caught fire last month in its owner’s garage.
The software update allegedly mitigates the effects of power fluctuations due to inconsistency of service levels from utility providers and from other devices nearby that draw significant amounts of current. This update reduces the current going into the battery by 25% when a change in current is detected.
Though electric car technology is viewed with a judicious level of cynicism, it seems inappropriate to not draw parallels between gasoline powered cars and electric cars: there is a chance that someone smoking a cigarette and refueling their gas powered car is running the same risk as someone who manages to drop a hair dryer in the bathtub while charging their car.
There may be inevitable parallels as well between puncturing a thin metal box containing many gallons combustible petroleum liquid traveling and 80 miles an hour just inches above the road and holding a battery and puncturing it in a similar place. Is one powertrain held to a double standard over the other?
- By: Sawyer Sutton