A Tesla Model S flips over dramatically, slides down its roof for a hundred feet, then explodes. It sounds a lot like a climactic final scene of a car chase in a movie, but insurance company AXA just pretended it happened naturally at a publicity event…until the company admitted that was not the case. admission came after questioning of the German automotive publication 24Auto.de.
The rollover was one of two staged crashes used to demonstrate the supposed dangers of electric cars. AXA claimed the extremely Hollywood stunt was a showcase of what can happen when the “very high torque” of an electric vehicle causes a driver to lose control during acceleration. After rolling, the Model S slides down its roof, comes to a stop, and then spontaneously ignites in what appears to be a battery fire.
AXA said this was to demonstrate that “the underbody seems to be the Achilles heel of electric cars because the battery is not protected there”, although many modern electric cars do indeed have immense amounts of protection. on their undercarriage.
The company did not say if the fire started until 24Auto contacted the insurance company directly. AXA later clarified that “a battery fire would have been too dangerous due to the guests present” and therefore all battery cells were removed from the Tesla prior to the stunt. The fire was planned with pyrotechnics and AXA said it “apologizes[d] if we give the wrong impression.”
So why stage the stunt? The company wanted to draw attention to its study which revealed that drivers of electric vehicles in Switzerland are involved in 50% more accidents with damage to their cars. The second test, a head-on collision between an e-Golf and an ICE Golf, was intended to demonstrate that electric vehicles are heavier than ICE cars (which, yes, we knew).
All in all, it doesn’t seem like there was an urgent need to go 4th of July on a Model S to prove a point, and even more confusingly AXA even noted in his own press release that battery fires are exceptionally rare. In subsequent clarifications from the company, the insurer admitted that its own staged accident would probably not have damaged the battery enough to cause an actual fire. Maybe next time leave the fireworks for the after-party?
The article is in French
. insurance company admits what simulated fire battery at demonstration accident Tesla