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With Burning Teslas In the News Ford Recalls Almost 140,000 Escapes 293

Posted by samzenpus
from the burning-rubber-and-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tesla received a lot of attention over the Model S fires recently, but they're not the only car company having issues with spontaneous combustion. Ford has issued a recall on almost 140,000 Ford Escapes for potential engine fires. With little media attention on the recall, Musk might have a point about the unfair treatment Tesla gets in the news."
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With Burning Teslas In the News Ford Recalls Almost 140,000 Escapes

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  • by haruchai (17472) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:31AM (#45546121)

    A quarter-million ICE vehicles catch fire every year in America alone so Ford and the rest need to be a LOT more proactive.

  • by mojo-raisin (223411) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:32AM (#45546125)

    Ford is retro-actively recalling their cars after a few dozen caught fire spontaneously. Spontaneous combustion has yet to be achieved by a Tesla.

  • Unfair treatment? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:40AM (#45546179)

    Ford is doing a voluntary recall after 12 fires in just under 150,000 vehicles, or 0.008% of vehicles sold. Tesla is not doing a recall after 3 fires in @ 20,000 vehicles sold, or 0.015% of vehicles sold. Why is the different media attention any surprise?

  • by mojo-raisin (223411) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:42AM (#45546197)

    You seem to be lacking in the ability to make distinction. So I'll break it down. Real. Simple.

    Ford. Whole car burn for no reason.

    Tesla. Front trunk burn after high speed collision.

    Ford. Bad safety.

    Tesla. Good safety.

  • Only Ford? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BringsApples (3418089) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:55AM (#45546257)
    Here's a list of manufacturers that had to do big recalls in 2013, found here: [nhtsa.gov]

    -November 26: 139,917 Ford Escape vehicles from 2013, Recalled for potential oil leaks that may cause an engine fire.
    -November 18: 707,176 Chrysler vehicles from 2003-2008, including RAM 2500 4X4 and RAM 1500 Mega Cab 4X4 models, Recalled for the left tie rod assembly, which may break, causing a loss of steering.
    -November 18: 265,044 Chrysler RAM 2500 4X4 and 3500 4X4 vehicles from 2008-2012, Recalled for the left tie rod assembly, which may break, causing a loss of steering.
    -November 4: 344,187 Honda Odysseys from 2007-2008, Recalled for software that may cause the sudden application of the brakes without the brake lights going on, increasing the risk of a crash.

    Not all are due to fire, but all are potentially fatal, and much higher number of cars recalled.

  • Re:Unfair treatment? (Score:5, Informative)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @01:07AM (#45546291)

    The Ford's being recalled catch fire while stationary after normal use.
    The Tesla's catch fire after a high speed incident. Two hit big chunks of metal, the other was crashed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2013 @01:17AM (#45546337)

    You mean the one he repaid, early? Nice try. Shill.

  • by AaronW (33736) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @01:32AM (#45546419) Homepage

    Actually at one point he did:

    "Musk said he put everything he had left into the company, even borrowing money from friends. Tesla went on to close the investment round on the last hour of the last possible day. If the fundraise hadn’t come through, the company would have gone bankrupt a few days later."

    http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2013/10/31/elon-musk-failure-fear/ [thenextweb.com]

  • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @03:14AM (#45546871)

    Maybe the media scrutiny is that Tesla's actually caught fire, and Ford is proactively recalling because there is a potential fire?

    Actually, if you read the article, you will see that both sets of vehicles are having approximately one fire per 10,000...

    "There have been 12 reported fires but no injuries in the bigger recall of 139,917 Ford Escape vehicles."

  • Re:"Spontaneous"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 28, 2013 @03:14AM (#45546877)

    Right, and the Tesla fires have resulted from impacts (accidents) with large metal objects that punctures the battery pack from below.

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @05:19AM (#45547291)

    The things that the two Teslas that burned out hit would have totaled any comparable sized gasoline car, likely causing hurt to the people in the car and very likely created hazardous oil spills. The people inside the car would not have had the chance to drive the car to a safe location to get out safely, but would have had to leave the car in the middle of a busy road, if they would have been able to get out at all. The chance that more vehicles would have been crashed, possibly hitting the original vehicle is quite real in such a scenario. Maybe there wouldn't have been a fire with the gasoline cars in these situation, but in terms of hazard or financial damage, the gasoline cars would most likely have been less safe and more expensive in a similar situation. Cleanup of oil spills is a lot more expensive than just putting out a fire, even if it was an electric car fire.

    The third Tesla was crashed by a drunk guy and almost the entire undercarriage was knocked off. That may have not caused a fire if it had been a gasoline car, but it most certainly was not road debris.

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @06:27AM (#45547471)

    You have your numbers wrong. There have been zero spontaneous Tesla fires. All three Tesla fires were a result of a crash. Musk is denying the issue exists because there is no issue. When you impale a car, things like fires are going to happen. That's not a defect that warrants a recall.

    This Ford issue though, is a defect. Cars may catch fire spontaneously during normal operation without any accident having occurred. That's a defect that warrants a recall.

  • Re:The difference (Score:4, Informative)

    by dave420 (699308) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @06:40AM (#45547529)
    There you go again. "Just like Tesla had"? No. The Tesla fires were after collisions, the Ford fires were after nothing. Why are you so eager to lie? Cars catch fire after collisions frequently - any moving object with enough stored energy to keep the object moving at highway speeds for hundreds of miles is going to cause issues when it is structurally compromised. ICE cars, electric cars, steam vehicles, the log - they all have issues when they massive chunks are ripped out of them. No-one is complaining about the tens-of-thousands of non-Tesla collision-related fires out there (which are usually far less survivable than Tesla's fires). Your bias is showing. It's ugly.
  • Re:Happily parked? (Score:5, Informative)

    by squizzar (1031726) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @07:02AM (#45547617)

    Happened when I was at primary school. Something shorted out and started a fire and burnt several cars.

    IIRC E36 BMW coupes caught fire occasionally because the cabling into the boot(trunk) lid would get brittle over time and split when it was flexed. In mine it manifested itself as the central locking failing because some wires shorted out. I'd imagine there's a sensor for the alarm, or supply for the central locking that's live even with the ignition off, so it's not a big leap of faith to see that a parked car could catch fire due to something shorting out.

    Cars have quite a lot of 'live' when off electrical equipment - cooling fans for example - that can be on at any time, so faulty or ill designed wiring could cause problems in stationary cars.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @08:34AM (#45547883) Homepage Journal

    no car should catch fire as a result of running over debris in the road as happened wih the Teslas in question

    Yeah. That's a good point. That should be fixed in the majority of dino-burning cars. e.g. Buses should not catch fire after running over mattresses [abc.net.au], Ambulances should not catch fire while sitting in the station house [ems1.com] (most Ambulances are Fords, BTW) and trucks which run over tree branches [artsa.com.au] should also not catch fire.

    not putting your fuel tank under your ass would be a good step towards minimisation of consequences like, say, fires, don't you think?

    The fuel tank is under the ass of the people in the back seat in any car designed worth a fuck. Or at least, right behind their ass, and below it.

    What sort of mental fault causes a person to argue that a fire which could have been avoided is okay because, well, at least nobody got hurt?

    What sort of mental fault causes a person to assume that a fire which was caused in spite of a big metal plate was avoidable, and would have been avoided in some other car?

    In the two cases where the cars weren't damaged by crashing into a wall and tree, the drivers were able to safely pull over.

    Eh, which stats are we looking at? You're implying at least 4 accidents...

    Uh, no. When someone says "two cases" they're not implying four accidents. And they only even mentioned three in the comment. What are you on about?

    the Ford problem is likely to happen when nobody is in the car (if the engine overheating which eventually leads to the problem occurs during driving, the owner will be warned to pull over and/or seek service, at least for current models); the Tesla problem is likely to happen during driving and without warning. So, the Tesla problem is more dangerous.

    You are being a disingenuous asshole specifically because the Tesla problem did not happen without warning. A major collision is in fact warning. Also, so far there has been warning. In the last case, there were even alert messages. If that's not warning, then fuck you. Also, the Ford problem is equally likely to happen any time the brakes are not depressed. It is probably more likely to happen while the vehicle is running, because of heat and vibration, and infinitesimally more likely to happen also because of the increased voltage output from the alternator while the vehicle is in operation (charging voltage.)

    "Oh but what I meant is that the Tesla problem only happens after an accident!!!" So what? Accidents happen. Your distinction artificially created to confirm your bias doesn't actually help anyone.

    Your comment is full of misleading bullshit artificially created to confirm your bias. You don't get to complain about the same without being the hypocrite that you are.

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @09:31AM (#45548113)

    Let me be very specific: no car should catch fire as a result of running over debris in the road as happened wih the Teslas in question.

    "Running over debris" is not an adequate description of the events. In the first case, the debris impaled the car with a 25 tonne force. In the second case, the car drove through a roundabout, through a wall, and crashed into a tree. In the third case, the car hit a trailer hitch that was sticking up with enough force to lift the car and gouge the tarmac.

    Any similar car is going to be catastrophically damaged by events like this, including significant risk of catching fire. It is not reasonable to consider a car catching fire as a result of events like that as defective.

    What sort of mental fault causes a person to argue that a fire which could have been avoided is okay because, well, at least nobody got hurt?

    Nobody has said that. It's not reasonable to describe these fires as avoidable. You can't make massive, portable energy storage systems that are immune to fire in the event of severe damage, whether those energy storage systems are batteries or petrol.

    Eh, which stats are we looking at? You're implying at least 4 accidents...

    I'm not, you just don't know what you are talking about. The second accident involved a car driving through a roundabout, through a wall, and into a tree. You are counting that as two accidents because you aren't informed about the accidents you are talking about.

    In the same circumstances, a traditional car would not have fared so well.

    Evidence?

    You require evidence that a traditional car impaled with a 25 tonne force is a fire risk, or that a car that crashes through a wall and into a tree is a fire risk? You think that a traditional car would have remained controllable after being impaled? You think that a traditional car would have stopped the fire from reaching the cabin?

    The NHTSA has already reviewed one case and found that the car was not at fault.

    Of course it wasn't the car's fault that it encountered debris.

    Of course it wasn't. But that's not what the NHTSA said. They said that the fire wasn't a result of a defect in the car. Of course they didn't say that it wasn't the car's fault it encountered debris. You are just saying that to deflect away from the fact that they said the fire wasn't the car's fault.

    Of course they're different things: the Ford problem is likely to happen when nobody is in the car (if the engine overheating which eventually leads to the problem occurs during driving, the owner will be warned to pull over and/or seek service, at least for current models); the Tesla problem is likely to happen during driving and without warning. So, the Tesla problem is more dangerous.

    No, you still aren't comparing like for like. You are comparing two mutually exclusive things. You are comparing the likelihood of a major accident causing a fire with a Tesla to the likelihood of a design/construction fault causing a fire with a Ford. These are dissimilar, mutually exclusive scenarios. What you are failing to take into account are the similar scenarios on each side. The proper thing to compare the Ford problem with is the design/construction faults that cause spontaneous fires in Tesla cars. This number is zero. The proper thing to compare the Tesla problem with is the likelihood that a Ford car will catch fire after a major accident. This number is non-zero.

    If you want to conflate the two dissimilar issues, you need to take into account the likelihood that a Ford car will catch fire after a major accident. This is not being accounted for in the fires associated with the recall. The reason for this being that nobody considers it to be a design fault if a traditional car catches fire after a major accident. The same should apply to Tesla cars.

  • Re:Happily parked? (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:35AM (#45548471) Homepage Journal

    But even if this is 100% true and accurate, it doesn't relate to the tesla because someone actually investigated tje problem and ford actually did something about it (recall) other than complain about bad press and pointing to other car fires to justify it qs common or not as bad or something

    Unfortunately, your comment is not 100% true and accurate. Tesla issued a firmware update that stops the vehicle from squatting automatically at high speeds, because drivers have demonstrated that they can't handle the responsibility of not driving over things. That's not doing nothing. That's seeing what they can do about the problem, discovering they can do something about it in software, and issuing a patch.

    Further, so far the statistics bear out the assertion that it is not a life-threatening problem, so it's hard to determine what you're complaining about in the Tesla response. While I hesitate to draw conclusions from such a small data set, the statistics suggest that he's correct.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @11:09AM (#45548635) Homepage Journal

    I am not sure why you're fighting the evidence in front of you. It clearly doesn't take major impact,

    Wait. That's totally wrong. I am not sure why you're fighting the evidence in front of you. It clearly does take major impact. A major impact was involved in all three Tesla fires. A major impact to the undercarriage is still a major impact. This is not fucking rocket science; it is, in fact, elementary school English.

    To be clear: mounting a fuel tank with large surface area flush against the road is a generic road vehicle manufacturing fubar. Protecting the fuel tank, and protecting the humans from the fuel tank, are (obviously) old problems.

    And yet, it is utterly wrong in the majority of gasoline cars, which also mount the fuel tank near the road, and which have less protection for energy storage than does the Tesla. You're holding Tesla to a higher standard than other automakers while claiming that you're holding them to the same standard. You're either hypocritical or ignorant here.

    Modern cars are expected to fail gracefully during an accident, whether that's with seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, side impact panels, whatever. They may no longer "function" AFTER the accident, but their final duty is to behave as nicely as possible in preventing people from being seriously injured/killed.

    The Tesla does all of this to a greater degree than the gasoline vehicles, according to the available statistics.

    it is the driver's responsibility to drive the car.

    What does that last sentence mean?

    Your inability to understand it means I want you nowhere near me on the roads. Please don't drive in NoCal.

    I don't think we have enough evidence that a Tesla is safer than a comparably built ICE car with similar usage profiles.

    Right, I don't either. I think that so far the statistics suggest that a Tesla is safer, but they are inadequate in number to make declarative statements based on them. We have however seen that even when a Tesla is damaged to the point that it catches fire, the occupants have so far been safe.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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