Tesla is investigating why a Model S appeared to explode in a Shanghai parking garage

YouTubeSmoke could be seen pouring from the vehicle moments before it burst into flames.
  • A TeslaModel S appears to emit smoke and erupt into flames in a Shanghai parking garage in a video posted to Weibo over the weekend.
  • Tesla said it’s investigating why the car, which was not charging at the time, appeared to spontaneously combust.
  • While Tesla sells some of the safest cars on the roads, its batteries can be particularly tricky for firefighters.

Tesla is investigating a fire that appears to have been started by a Model S in a parking garage in Shanghai.

Video on the Chinese social-networking platform Weibo that first surfaced Sunday evening appears to show the car emitting smoke before erupting into flames, igniting several other cars in the area. Business Insider was not able to verify the videos, which were first reported by the local blog Shanghaiist.

Shanghai’s fire department said on Weibo that it dispatched 15 fire engines to the scene, where it took just under an hour to extinguish the blaze. Authorities confirmed that the fire spread to an Audi and a Lexus parked nearby.

In response, Tesla’s official Weibo account said it the company was aware of the incident and was investigating the cause. Here’s its comment, translated by Business Insider:

“After learning about the accident in Shanghai, we dispatched our team to the scene last night. We are in active communication with the relevant departments and coordinating for the situation as appropriate. According to currently available information, there are no casualties.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

In an interview with China’s Xinmin Evening News, the car’s owner said the 2015 Model S was not charging at the time of the fire but had been charged a few hours prior.

While Tesla sells some of the safest cars on the roads, its batteries can be particularly tricky for firefighters.

Last week, another Model S caught fire shortly after being towed to a repair shop in Pennsylvania, despite word from Tesla that the battery had been disconnected and would not catch fire. According to Reuters, there have been at least 14 instances of Tesla vehicles igniting in the past six years, most of which have occurred after a crash.

Battery fires can burn hotter and longer than those of Tesla’s gasoline-powered counterparts. Tesla’s own documentation for first responders says a fire in the Model S can take up to 3,000 gallons of water to establish sufficient cooling for the battery.

Starr Chen assisted with reporting.

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