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Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield 152

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tesla said a few weeks ago it would add additional safety shielding to protect the battery of every Model S car on the road against damage from road debris. But it offered no photos of its update as it would look when installed--so one owner took his own. These may be the first detail shots of what the three different pieces look like. There's a half-round aluminum tube, a titanium plate, and a T-shaped section--and you can see how they combine to deflect and direct impacts to minimize damage to the battery. Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?"
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Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield

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  • Problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:03PM (#46715699)

    " Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?"

    You mean Tesla's problem of already being the safest car money can buy?

    Or do you mean Tesla's problem of having every minor pecadillo be over-hyped by the media, especially right wing news outlets that want to downplay Tesla's success because admitting Tesla is successful is tantamount to admitting a policy of the Obama administration that the right wing fought against actually turned out to be a good policy. It might fix that.

  • by dclozier ( 1002772 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:03PM (#46715701)
    These accidents all seem to stem from the drivers and their carelessness. From crashing through brick walls to hitting large chunks of debri in the road rather than going around it. All Tesla has done is made their vehicles less prone to the driver being careless. (good move none the less)

    Next up - Tesla cars catch fire after drivers park them in the ocean.
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:12PM (#46715765) Journal
    Do these updates look like they'll solve Tesla's problems?

    Since Tesla's biggest problems come from buggy whip... I mean, car dealership... protectionism, combined with a dislike bordering on zealotry from a media that still considers the Chevy L88 as the engine to beat for every compact sedan they review?

    No. No, these updates will not solve Tesla's problems.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:15PM (#46715793)

    disagree about carelessness.

    I believe products should be designed (over-designed) so that even if users are not operating fully as planned, you should still have a safety margin to protect them.

    its typical german (old school; not sure about now) engineering design. don't just do the job barely; OVER do it. just in case.

    having protection down there makes uber sense ;) not having it is a weakness. this should have been there on day-0 and I'm very surprised that they didn't.

    when making a brand new product, its best to over-plan for disaster and mitigate as much as you can, in advance, via over-design and better parts quality than you thought you might need. you get only a short window to prove yourself to the world, might as well do all you can to make that big splash work for you and not against you.

    to contrast, the chinese way (sigh) is all about just barely having enough headroom to support use-cases. they will put lower voltage capacitors on a circuit thinking 'this is good enough for our foreign users; if the circuit blows up, who cares, we already got their money'. this is why so many people are going out of their way to avoid chinese junk electronics. their design mindset is ALL WRONG and actually dangerous.

    I'd like to see more of a return to overdesign and thoughts about customer safety and product longevity. this throw-away culture really pisses me off.

  • Re:Problems? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:17PM (#46715807)

    If it's not THE absolute safest, it's one of the top safest cars you can buy. Point is, it's already an extremely safe car. This is just a minor tweak.

    Full disclosure: I don't own a Tesla, but would buy one if they weren't so gosh darned expensive.

  • I doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rollgunner ( 630808 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:23PM (#46715865)
    I don't think any number of technical improvements can fix a problem that only exists in people's heads.

    Hysteria, superstition, preconception and failure to understand statistics are the *real* problems that Tesla faces in marketing their product.
  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:27PM (#46715895)

    Sure, except that in every reported case of battery fires in a Tesla, the user has walked away from the crash (even when the crash took place at 100 mph or so). The cars already have the highest safety rating possible in tests. Expecting a safety margin is one thing, and Tesla has shown they more than fulfill that. Expecting to be invincible is quite another, and that's what a lot of people (or, at least the media) seem to be expecting, and that's incredibly stupid.

    This battery shield is a PR move, quite simply. Not a bad one, and it might marginally improve safety, but I suspect only extremely marginally so, and it's certainly not worth it as a safety measure alone.

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:31PM (#46715947)

    Yes, because it makes a whole lot of sense not to think of cars as technology, and Slashdot never reported on electric cars before Tesla [].

  • s/catch fire/sink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:34PM (#46715971)
    But to be fair, my Dad managed to sink a new VW Bug in Lake Michigan back in the late sixties. He learned that "It floats!" - right up 'til it sinks. Took a while.

    Incidentally, he never thought about sueing Volkswagen - back then, he figured if he was stupid enough to drive an automobile into a lake, he got what he had coming. Nowadays, I'm pretty sure the settlement would've been worth millions.

  • Re:Problems? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:36PM (#46715997)

    Then do the comparison properly, Tesla Model S car fires vs. ICE powered car fires for vehicles built at or after June 2012.
    This will avoid the fallacy of including 15 year old vehicles against 2 year old vehicles, as well as accounting for the modern state of ICE vehicles.

    I'd be surprised if there was a statistical difference between the two.

  • Re:Problems? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:37PM (#46716017)

    every minor pecadillo be over-hyped by the media, especially right wing news outlets that want to downplay Tesla's success
    Care to cite?
      admitting a policy of the Obama administration that the right wing fought against actually turned out to be a good policy.
    What policy would that be? Can you cite it instead of just screaming "Obama!!!" at the top of your lungs?

  • by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:40PM (#46716065)

    Going around road debris isn't always the best decision, so I wouldn't necessarily assume the driver is being careless. Running over something which may do some damage to your vehicle may be a much better alternative compared to hitting the vehicle in the next lane or swerving into oncoming traffic. Both of which would risk harming others.

    Still, any vehicle with relatively low ground clearance is going to have trouble in this sort of scenario and the most anyone could claim is that the Model S is more prone to damaging expensive components. If that wasn't addressed, there could have been some liability issues in the sense that Tesla drivers may have a financial incentive to make a less safe decision in these sorts of scenarios. I think this, along with keeping the perception as the "safest car on the road" and general goodwill made it worthwhile to implement these design changes even though occupant safety was never really a serious concern.

    This has really been a non-story from the start. Tesla had a minor design issue on a first generation vehicle and have consistently done the right thing for their customers as well the rest of the driving public in every decision they've made along the way. If only the same thing could be said for GM and their ignition switch problem.

  • Re:Problems? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:40PM (#46716069)

    The sample size of total number of Tesla's is still considerably smaller then ICE vehicles.

    The relative sizes of the two samples is irrelevant. Statistically illiterate people almost always vastly overestimate the sample size required to draw useful conclusions. Inaccuracy is usually not caused by the "sample size", but the sample bias, for instance, if there was some reason that Tesla fires would be under or over reported.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:32PM (#46716675) Homepage Journal

    Well yeah, the 100 mile per hour crash was the big thing there.

    It seems big, until you consider that a lot of people survive 100 MPH crashes in ICE cars as well, even ones that don't have quite as stellar of a rating as the Model S.

    Of course, I've been arguing for 20 years or so that pretty much everyone would survive almost every crash if the NHTSA would mandate roll cages and five-point harnesses, but alas, thus far my entreaties have fallen on deaf ears...

Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing. -- Ambrose Bierce