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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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  • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:00AM (#46602751) Journal
    Is he saying they've upgraded safety to piloted weapon system levels?
  • Sounds like (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:00AM (#46602761)

    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

    Sounds like a scene from "the A team", where I would have been saying "that's so unrealistic"!

    • by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:19AM (#46602991) Journal

      But seriously makes me want to buy one.

      "Guess what my car can do? Here, hold my beer..."
      Two minutes later, walk back and finish beer. "It didn't even get warm!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

      Sounds like a scene from "the A team", where I would have been saying "that's so unrealistic"!

      The Tesla Model S sounds like a tank. I needs a tank to traverse these pot-hole-riddled roadways. Where's the ammunition stored?

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:10AM (#46603581)

        In the battery compartment.

      • by gnick (1211984) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:32AM (#46603789) Homepage

        You're driving 110mph in a titanium shielded metal box full of batteries. You ARE the ammunition.

      • Re:Sounds like (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dpidcoe (2606549) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:47AM (#46603975)

        The Tesla Model S sounds like a tank. I needs a tank to traverse these pot-hole-riddled roadways. Where's the ammunition stored?

        The combination of low profile tires + being low to the ground just doesn't handle that kind of stuff very well. You'd probably have to raise the suspension a little and replace the wheels with something that can handle higher sidewalls. I have a friend who owns one and he's had to replace two of the wheels (the entire metal wheel, not the tire) due to hitting fist sized rocks in the middle of the road that bent the rim. I'd imagine that a pothole might have the same effect.

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:00AM (#46602765)
    Isn't titanium pyrophoric, sort of like those golf clubs [slashdot.org]?
  • Musk offered this amusing example: '... 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.

    Hilarious!

    • by MattGWU (86623) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:14AM (#46602939)

      I thought it was pretty funny as an absurdist thing. "Yes, our car caught fire after crashing through a wall at 110 MPH, an unfortunate weakness in our battery-powered vehicle which any other car would have obviously brushed aside - the driver was fine, by the way." / "Yes, our cars catch fire after merely crashing through a wall, another wall, and a tree, after which the driver walked away...we suck :( "

      • by Bomarc (306716)
        And just how many times do *you* crash into two walls and a tree at 110 mph (while drunk)? The risk of this happening is so SMALL, why would this a factor with a decision to not buy?
        -- If my gas powered car would let me walk away after this type of incident -- I would buy that car again. Oh, wait...
    • Musk offered this amusing example: '... 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.

      Hilarious!

      And amazing the idiot survived. Should have been a Darwin award winner for sure. Testament to how tough that Model S really is, even before the added stuff.

  • This is what the rest of the automotive industry will say, then: "This shows what we have said all along, these things are unsafe.". These (misleading) headlines will be quoted all over - "case proven, Tesla is not safe".

    It would be amusing to see them held to the same standards - which the regulator could, nay - should, do.

    • None of them would say that. That's like a CPU manufacturer saying multicore CPUs are unreliable. They're pretty much all selling them and they all know it's the future.

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

      Not sure what else the *regulators* should do.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:58AM (#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.

  • for a $90k car...why not carbon fiber too?

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:17AM (#46602971)

    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.

    This sounds like something yon might see if you're watching Road Runner [wikipedia.org]

  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:21AM (#46603021)

    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

    I can't be the only one who finds this amazing. People survive these kinds of crashes, but to be able to get yourself out for the vehicle and walk away on your own is impressive.

    • VERY impressive for a production vehicle.

    • You should see some of the cars people survived accidents from. You'd think there's no way they could have even lived.

      • This. One of the unsung heros of the late 20th Century and beyond are the automobile engineers. Modern cars can take an enormous amount of impact energy and distribute it away from the passengers. It's actually unusual to see serious injuries in major car crashes - it certainly happens but not to the frequency it did previous to energy absorbing frames, airbags, active tensioners and the like.

        No kaboom.. No earth shattering kaboom. But you can't have everything.

        • by sjbe (173966)

          It's actually unusual to see serious injuries in major car crashes

          You mean except for the 1.24 million deaths [who.int] annually on roads? Or the 20-40,000 people who die each year in car crashes in the US alone? Interesting definition of unusual you have there.

  • PR smackdown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:26AM (#46603069)

    You know, I usually detest any sort of PR speak. That sort of bullshit where they desperately try to spin negative news to their advantage. It's just something I've come to expect from corporations and politicians.

    But this?

    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.

    That is some mighty fine PR smackdown.
    Sure, there were other fires, but this one they got covered.

    Can we please move to the post-bullshit era where authenticity is expected?

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

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday March 28, 2014 @10:49AM (#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.

      • I think I know the accident you speak of - it wasn't so much a 'metal spike' as a caltrop in the form of a trailer hitch on the road - One of those 3-ball types from some reports. I don't think it really weighed 50 pounds as I think it was a hitch like this one [etrailer.com], putting it closer to 40 pounds(or less), given the shipping weight of 44 pounds.

        As for mild steel - not unless it was bought from some shady chinese store.

        That's basically what it amounts to. If you see a rusty trailer hitch in the road, try not to hit it so hard that it lifts your car up into the air.

        I'd tend to say 'try not to drive over stuff, especially big bits of metal'.

    • You know, I usually detest any sort of PR speak. That sort of bullshit where they desperately try to spin negative news to their advantage. It's just something I've come to expect from corporations and politicians.

      But this?

      Can we please move to the post-bullshit era where authenticity is expected?

      Is Fox News gone yet? No? Keep waiting.

  • by kamakazi (74641) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:21AM (#46603675)

    Did anyone else notice those seem to be successive tests on the same car? In the alternator test you see a fastener toward the back of the belly plate gets loosened, in the trailer hitch test you see the fastener actually come out, then in the concrete block test you see the belly plate actually flap under impact, and you can see what appears to be the hole that fastener came from.

    I am fairly impressed that, not only did they do real world tests (which do fall short of shearing off wheels and battering through concrete walls) but they apparently did not put the car on a lift and return it to perfect condition between successive tests.

    That makes the test a bit more real world like, cars get driven and accumulate wear and tear, so they are not necessarily going to be in factory mint condition when they hit something.

    You get the feeling, regardless of what you think of Musk or the car, that he is very proud of that car, and it appears justifiably so. Yes, he is defensive when the press screams disaster and trumpets doom and gloom about the car, but he doesn't ever try to hide from the press or try to spin the reports, instead he makes a change to improve the car, then does his spin on his own terms.

    Obviously titanium might be a bit pricey for the "cheap" Tesla when it arrives, but I bet the anti-penetration armor design will be there, even if it ends up being constructed of less expensive materials.

    In this way the response to the overhyped Tesla accidents and fires will help us all in the long run, just like the German automakers pioneered crash simulation in the 80s and 90s, and now all cars have crumple zones.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:39AM (#46603875)

    It is Tesla's indifference to the customer's safety that makes this car a death trap. Somone ever so gentily nudges a barrier (an old one that crumbled for 15 feet) at a relatively slow speed of 110 MPH and the two front wheels fly off and the car is flung in to a tree. All we hear from Telsa is "Save the batteries, save the poor batteries". What about the driver? Who is looking out for him?

    The safest car ever built was the Yugo. A 200 pound car with a top speed of 15 MPH; how much damage can you do?

  • by mveloso (325617) on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:27PM (#46605033)

    Next up: CowCatchers on the Tesla X!

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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