Tesla is fortifying its high-priced Model S sedan to better protect its most essential component.
The company will install a titanium shield and aluminum deflector plates to the vehicle’s underbody to stand between the vital components incluing the battery and anything that might strike it, which was good enough for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to end its investigation of the Tesla cars.
The cause of the fires was determined to be the striking of road debris at highway speeds, which penetrated the aluminum underbody pan and damaged the battery. These new fixes are in addition to a change in the telematic software of the car which prevents Model S vehicles equipped with active suspension from lowering when at highway speeds to make contact with road debris less likely.
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“The odds of fire in a Model S, at roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles, are five times lower than those of an average gasoline car and, when a fire does occur, the actual combustion potential is comparatively small,” Elon Musk wrote in a blog post.
NHTSA concluded that there is no defect trend present in the Model S, saying that Tesla’s revision of ride height along with the installation of increased underbody protection should reduce the frequency of debris strikes, as well as reduce the likelihood of a fire.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that vehicles in production began receiving the upgraded protection as of March 6 and existing Model S owners can have their cars fit with the extra protection if they request it. He also said that this will lower the Model S’ overall range by 0.1 percent.
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