According to a facebook post from the police department of Corvallis, Oregon, a Tesla Model 3 crashed at over 100mph, causing batteries from the Tesla to enter two different residences by breaking through the windows, one landing on a person’s lap and the second landing on a bed, catching the bedding on fire. “A tire was ripped from the car during the collision and struck the second story siding of a nearby apartment complex with such force that it ruptured the water pipes within the wall, destroying the bathroom to the apartment and flooding the downstairs portion of the apartment as well,” adds ExtremeTech. From the report: Tesla goes to some trouble to make certain that the battery cells in its vehicles don’t go flying in the event of a collision. But the nature of this impact was obviously sufficient to break whatever solution the manufacturer has developed for dealing with the problem. Previous teardowns of the Model 3 battery pack have shown that the cells are sealed in place with high-strength epoxy.
With that said, there does appear to be a unique problem for BEVs in a situation like this. According to a follow-up post, the Model 3 battery cells can remain hot to the touch and might cause burns for up to 24 hours following involuntary dispersal. That kind of hazard — specifically, the length of time you might be at risk from harm due to leftover detritus — seems a potentially significant issue in certain situations. Tesla’s epoxy solution shows it has considered the problem, but there may be reason to revisit things. It is unclear if individual cells remain at significant risk for secondary ignition after being separated from the main battery for any length of time or if the majority of fire risk is in the immediate period post-impact. The driver, incidentally, survived, which seems to say something good about Tesla’s crash survival measures, at the least. The vehicle, needless to say, did not.
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