10th May 2018
Safety investigators in the US are investigating a crash in which the battery of a Tesla electric car caught fire, burning two teenagers to death.
A witness to the crash in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said the Tesla Model S was being driven fast and spun out of control. It then crashed into a wall and caught fire.
Police said two 18-year-olds were trapped and died when the car became engulfed in flames.
Another teenager was thrown from the car and was taken to a hospital, where his condition was unknown.
The witness said he tried to help the teenagers but the fire was too intense to get them out of the car.
Lithium-ion batteries like those used by Tesla can catch fire and burn rapidly in a crash, although Tesla has maintained its vehicles catch fire far less often than those powered by petrol.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said a four-person team would focus on the emergency response to the incident.
It said it did not expect Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system to be a part of the investigation.
This is the second time in the past two months the NTSB has investigated a Tesla fire.
A probe is underway into a fire in a Tesla Model X SUV that crashed on a freeway near Mountain View, California, on March 23.
NTSB spokesman Chris O’Neil said investigators did not know what caused the battery fire in this week’s crash.
He said the agency was investigating because there was a post-crash fire involving an electric vehicle.
Earlier this month, Tesla and the NTSB got into an open feud over Tesla’s release of information from the probe into the Mountain View crash.
The agency said it booted Tesla out of a group investigating the crash after the company prematurely made investigation details public.
Tesla, however, disputed the claim. The company said it withdrew from the investigation agreement after being told it would be kicked out if it made additional statements before the NTSB finished its probe in the next 12 to 24 months.
Mr O’Neil said that despite the previous dispute, Tesla would be invited to be a party to the investigation of the Fort Lauderdale crash.
Tesla has been contacted for comment.
The NTSB normally makes recommendations to other federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has authority to impose regulations and seek recalls.