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Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates 314

Posted by Soulskill
from the responding-to-a-challenge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tesla Motors made headlines several times last year for a few Model S car fires. Elon Musk criticized all the attention at the time, pointing out that it was disproportionate to the 200,000 fires in gas-powered cars over the same period. Musk didn't stop there, though. He's announced that the Model S will now have a titanium underbody shield along with an aluminum bar and extrusion. He says this will prevent debris struck on the road from breaching the battery area. Musk offered this amusing example: 'We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario.' Included with the article are several animated pictures of testing done with the new underbody, which survives running over a trailer hitch, a concrete block, and an alternator."
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Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates

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  • Re:Titanium? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:06AM (#46602847) Homepage

    Only as a powder or thin shavings. As a solid block, it'd make an effective barrier.

    In the event of a crash where there is grinding across the titanium shield, there would be a lot of sparks on the outside, but no damage to the batteries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:09AM (#46602887)

    No they don't, they are just sick and tired that some people suck up everything that is thrown at them without even informing themselves, that's why some people believe that Tesla S is insecure and that could catch on fire at any moment, which is completely false, but people don't mind to find out if it's true, they just read it on the newspaper, so it MUST be true

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:38AM (#46603221)
    Um, I think you need to get some materials science 101 into you, buddy. I've read a lot of your posts and you sound like a misinformed, excited teenager. The fact that carbon fiber ISN'T tough is the reason your F1 driver can walk away. You want to see TOUGH? In the 1960s they built race cars like airplanes. Light AND tough, every accident turned the driver into jelly and the cars survived.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:47AM (#46603345)

    Carbon fiber has a failure mode that you could describe as "explosive". It absorbs a lot of energy, which is what the race car driver wants, but it doesn't necessarily prevent a sharp object from penetrating the area, which is what Tesla wants.Titanium has incredible toughness given its weight, which makes it a good candidate here. It's expensive, but in a $100,000 car, so what?

    Anyway, there's a reason that the A-10 pilot sits in a titanium "bathtub".

  • Re:PR smackdown (Score:5, Informative)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:49AM (#46603359) Journal

    The other fire involved tripping over a 50 pound metal spike at 70mph, causing it to upend violently and drive itself through the underside of the car with the force of a cannon.

    This one's easy to spin: "Tesla hits piece of metal on the road, catches fire." Problem was it hit a piece of metal on the road while going incredibly fast--fast enough for a piece of mild steel to puncture a 1/4 inch aluminum plate. Go find a 6mm thick piece of aluminum and try putting a nail through it. In theory, if the metal flipped upwards, it would skid off the bottom of the plate; if the ground end caught so it rotated, it would still skid across the aluminum plate. In reality, if you hit it hard enough, it'll either create a dimple or (more likely) it'll hit with enough force to wedge itself, creating enough friction that it tilts upward rather than skids--and if you're moving fast enough, that's enough energy to drive the fucking thing through the underside of the battery.

    The other fires--fires caused by faulty wiring or wall chargers, who knows--were caused at the wall.

    So the plate was replaced by a plate that can withstand retarded morons who should not be driving. That's basically what it amounts to. If you see a rusty trailer hitch [greenoptimistic.com] in the road, try not to hit it so hard that it lifts your car up into the air. You should also try not to crash into a concrete barrier wall at 110mph, then through a reinforced buttressed concrete wall, then headlong into a tree. These are things they recommend against doing in driver's ed.

  • Re:"extrusion"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KDN (3283) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:54AM (#46603431)
    Cost and strength. You can extrude something for a fraction of the cost of 3D printing or milling. You can even extrude titanium if you have a big enough press. (google "heavy press program" if you want to see some MONSTER presses.) Both extrusion and milling still have strength advantages over 3D printing. Where 3D printing shines is prototyping, small run, or fancy designs that are too difficult to extrude or cast or mill. But give it a few more years. The other methods have been around far longer, so we know how to do things well.
  • by Firethorn (177587) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:58AM (#46603471) Homepage Journal

    Haven't they already broken the safety tests by being beyond the test limitations?

    Let's see, they had to come up with extraordinary measures in order to flip the Tesla for that safety test, they broke the crush machine at somewhere around the equivalent of 4 teslas stacked on top of the roof.

    Thus far the Tesla has taken full advantage of it's electric design to make a vehicle that sneers at standard impact tests.

  • by InsaneMosquito (1067380) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:23PM (#46603687)
    From the article:

    The protective qualities of the underbody shields are substantial, but their effect on the overall structure of the vehicle is minimal. In total, the shields only have a 0.1 percent impact on range and donâ(TM)t affect ride or handling. Wind tunnel testing shows no discernible change in drag or lift on the car.

  • by jabuzz (182671) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:58PM (#46604135) Homepage

    Yeah but that is because the USA has all these intersections/cross roads instead of roundabouts, and no enforced seatbelt rules.

    In a more sensible country which does have these features, deaths per 100,000 is 2.75 instead of 10.4, and deaths per 100,000 vehicles is 5.1 instead of 15, and deaths per 1 billion km is 3.6 instead of 8.5.

    Or maybe it is because we are all such great drivers in the U.K. :-) Though our driving tests are far more rigorous than the ones in the USA.

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Friday March 28, 2014 @03:17PM (#46605415)

    You need either a materials science class or a reading class...

    Diamonds are not tough in that they can be crushed and they do not appreciably deform.
    Anvils are tough in that they can be repeatedly hit with a hammer, which will create dents etc. but will not fracture the metal.

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