- YouTube star and mechanic Rich Benoit posted a video of modified Tesla battery modules catching on fire after being improperly used.
- Benoit said the start of the fire was entirely his fault. He said the modified battery wasn’t charging or being cooled correctly when it caught on fire.
- Once the fire had ignited, it was intense and difficult to put out.
- “There are significant safety concerns when salvaged Teslas are repaired improperly or when Tesla parts are used outside of their original design intent, as these vehicles could pose a danger to both the mechanic and other drivers on the road,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.
Massachusetts-based mechanic Rich Benoit has garnered almost 400,000 followers on YouTube with his show, “Rich Rebuilds.” Most of the time he fixes Teslas, but a few weeks ago he put one-eighth of a Tesla battery inside of a Disney Princess electric car – he and his friends named it Daisy.
A few days later, Daisy caught on fire as she was charging in the garage, and Benoit and his friends went through six fire extinguishers as hot plastic and copper were raining down from the sky.
The pieces of battery got so hot they started melting into asphalt once they hit the ground. The guys likened the sound of all this to “combat training,” and when the firefighters arrived they asked if there was live ammunition in Daisy’s trunk.
“We can’t put it out,” they said as the flames kept reigniting.
Benoit said the start of this fire was his fault. He was not using a Tesla charger on the vehicle, and the battery didn’t have a proper cooling system in place when it caught on fire either. A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider that using Tesla parts improperly can be dangerous.
“There are significant safety concerns when salvaged Teslas are repaired improperly or when Tesla parts are used outside of their original design intent, as these vehicles could pose a danger to both the mechanic and other drivers on the road,” the spokesperson said.
While Benoit said the cause of Daisy’s fire was caused by improper use, the source of a recent Tesla battery fire has not yet been determined.
A California man’s Tesla Model S caught fire twice in a matter of hours on Tuesday after it got a flat tire and was taken to a shop for repairs. The owner had bought the Tesla three months before the incident and driven it about 1,200 miles, according to reports.
A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider that they were investigating the matter and are working with local first responders. The spokesperson also said its vehicles are designed so that when there is a fire, it spreads slower than in a gas-powered car. This is so occupants will have more time to exit the vehicle.
Still though, Tesla has come under some government scrutiny after authorities have struggled to extinguish battery-electric fires in its vehicles.
You can watch the video of Benoit’s fire below, and if you have any experience with Tesla battery fires give me a shout at[email protected].
And for more from Benoit, check out an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, Household Name, where we ask him how he got his start fixing Teslas.
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