An investigation by Tesla has determined that the January fire that destroyed a Model S while it was charging at a Supercharger station in Norway was caused by a short circuit in the vehicle’s electrical distribution box, according to Norwegian news site VG.
“The cause was a short circuit in the distribution box in the car,” Tesla’s Communication Manager in Norway, Even Sandvold Roland, told VG. “Superchargers were turned off immediately when the short circuit was discovered. Our investigation confirmed that this was an isolated incident, but due to the damage to the car, we could not definitely identify the exact cause of the short circuit.”
Tesla said it will update Model S software to provide additional safety features, including a diagnostic solution to prevent charging if a potential short circuit is detected.
The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB), which was involved in the investigation of the fire, had several meetings with Tesla representatives, and concluded that this was an isolated incident.
“A car fire is often spectacular, but there is no reason to believe that electric cars burn more often than other cars,” DSB Chief Engineer Jostein Ween Dig told VG. “Statistics actually indicate that incidence of fires is lower for electric cars.”
In fact, Dig noted that this incident was probably less dangerous than a typical gasoline vehicle fire: “The owner had time to run back, unplug the charger connector and remove his possessions from the car. It took several minutes before the car was ablaze. Normally an electric vehicle fire is not as explosive as it can be in a petrol car.”
In contrast to the 2013 Model S fires, which caused a media firestorm and a temporary plunge in the TSLA stock price, this more recent incident elicited little or no interest from the mainstream US press. Other than EV-related news outlets, few journalists outside of Norway have covered either the fire or the conclusion of the investigation, and there is no mention of the incident on the Tesla Motors web site.