Much like in the case of Apple’s iPhone which has the top player in the segment for years but is facing slagging sales with state-backed Chinese competitors beating it at the sales dept using unconventional methods, Tesla will have to tread carefully in China where it is facing state-backed rivals. Tesla has sent a team of engineers to investigate the cause of the fire.
On Monday, Tesla Inc stated, it has sent a team to investigate a video that was doing the rounds on Chinese social media. The video shows a Tesla Model S electric vehicle exploding.
The video, time stamped April 21, 2019, shows the parked EV emitting smoke after which it bursts into flames. The video purportedly shows the aftermath of the explosion wherein three cars parked alongside the Model S were completely destroyed.
Neither the origin nor the genuineness of the video was verified. According to Weibo users, it was taken in Shanghai. The cause of the explosion could not be immediately ascertained from the videos.
“We immediately sent a team onsite and we’re supporting local authorities to establish the facts. From what we know now, no one was harmed,” said Tesla in a statement.
Tesla decline any further comment.
Although there have been 14 instances of Tesla cars catching fire since 2013, the majority happened after a crash.
According to Tesla, electric vehicles are around 10 times less likely to catch in comparison to their petrol-powered cousins, based on its fleet of over 500,000 vehicles which have driven more than 10 billion miles.
Tesla did not specify whether the statistic referred to normal use or involving accidents.
According to analysts, the incident is likely to draw more attention to the safety of electric vehicles; it is however unlikely to have a significant impact on Tesla’s sales or reputation in China while the cause was being investigated.
“Tesla had fire incidents before, but they didn’t have a big impact on its reputation in China,” said analyst Alan Kang at LMC Automotive.
“Since its consumer base is not particularly conservative, and China is pushing the electric vehicle market, if this incident is just accidental, it will not have a big impact on Tesla,” opined Kang.