Meanwhile, WSJ says tech for detecting Autopilot abuse was rejected
ZURICH — Swiss firefighters said on Monday that the impact in a fatal
accident involving a Tesla electric car may have set off a fire in the
A 48-year-German driver died when his car hit the barrier in the central
reservation of a motorway in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, turned
over and burst into flames.
The crash, which happened on Thursday, is one of several accidents to affect
Tesla vehicles in recent days, and one of several crashes in recent years
"The violent impact of lithium-ion batteries could probably have caused a
phenomenon called 'thermal runaway', i.e. a rapid and unstoppable increase
in temperature," Ticino fire brigade said on its Facebook page.
Lithium-ion batteries can, under exceptional circumstances, have a sudden
and unstoppable increase in temperature, in a sort of chain reaction that
leads to the complete destruction of the batteries and the car, said fire
safety expert Guido Zaccarelli in an article quoted by the firefighters.
A Tesla spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by this accident, and we are
working to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full
cooperation to local authorities."
On Friday a Tesla Model S crashed at speed into a truck in South Jordan,
Utah. Police said the driver told them she had been using Autopilot at the
time and was looking at her phone. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) is also reviewing a Florida crash of a Tesla last
week that killed two teenagers. Autopilot is not believed to be a factor in
that crash, but the NTSB is looking into the cause of the intense fire
triggered by the crash.
On a related note, The Wall Street Journal today reported that Tesla had
looked into and rejected technology such as eye-tracking to ensure that
Tesla owners weren't misusing Autopilot.