Tesla donates destroyed Model 3 to Australia fire safety investigation


Tesla has donated a Model 3 that was destroyed in an accident last year to an organization for an electric vehicle (EV) fire safety investigation.

Dubbed “Testla” by the Australian safety group EV FireSafe, the destroyed Model 3 was recently pulled apart after it been totaled in a fiery accident in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, in September. The EV FireSafe team recently spent six hours pulling the damaged battery pack out of the Model 3, as part of a fire investigation conducted jointly with Tesla employees and the Victorian County Fire Authority.

While the team plans to release a more comprehensive timeline of Testla’s teardown, along with additional data from the process, the organization recently shared its initial findings with the NSW Association of Fire Investigators.

You can see some of the images from the accident and the investigation below. You can also learn about the initial results from the testing here, as shared in a 78-minute video presentation from EV FireSafe to the NSW Association of Fire Investigators.

Credit: Penrose Rural Fire Brigade

How the Model 3 looked following the fire. Credit: EV FireSafe

Point of impact on the battery pack. Credit: EV FireSafe

Credit: EV FireSafe

Credit: EV FireSafe

Notably, the team says the Model 3 ran over an 18 kg truck tail shaft that had fallen out of a nearby truck, severely damaging the battery pack and causing thermal runaway. The vehicle took the Penrose Rural Fire Brigade over half an hour to extinguish, and EV FireSafe notes that further investigation showed the battery pack had burned out, mitigating the likelihood of a secondary ignition.

Glenn Pröbstl, EV FireSafe’s Shipping and Automotive Lead, said during the initial presentation that the fire investigation was particularly fruitful.

He noted that a Tesla technician in charge of the Asia-Pacific region who had been a part of the investigation said that even senior technicians at Tesla in the U.S. who have been with the team since its inception had not been able to do what the six members of the Model 3 teardown team had done.

Pröbstl also offered a “massive thanks to Tesla for the assistance they gave.”

According to Electric Vehicle Council energy and infrastructure head Ross De Rango, EV battery-related fires still remain uncommon, with only six EV fires having been recorded in Australia since 2010 (via Perth Now).

“If we look at the annual reports from Fire Rescue NSW, they roll out to about 2,500 petrol and diesel vehicle fires every year,” De Rango said. “The relative rates of these vehicle fires are such that EVs catch fire about one-tenth to one-twentieth as often as petrol and diesel vehicles.”

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Tesla donates destroyed Model 3 to Australia fire safety investigation


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