The premise of this AXA Insurance test was simple. EVs have batteries could catch fire in the event of a crash, and AXA wanted to demo this. In the video, you can see a yellow Model S being launched into a ramp, flipping over, landing on its roof, and bursting into flame. But how did they do this?
First, AXA removed the battery in the Tesla Model S. Wait a minute, you say. How are you going to demo a battery fire if you remove the battery? You put pyrotechnics inside, of course! This way, the demonstration was “safe” and AXA could be ensured that a “battery fire” would indeed happen.
“For safety reasons, it was not possible to ignite a real battery fire at an event with around 500 people, which is why a fire with pyrotechnics was staged.”
The problem with this is the video has now spread online with headlines like “Insurance company proves Tesla battery catches fire!” or “Watch a Tesla battery burst into flame!” Without the proper context, viewers could easily be fooled into thinking that Teslas easily catch fire.
What is crazy about this whole situation is that without the BS pulled by AXA, it would have been pretty challenging to demonstrate how a Tesla can burst into flame. The reality of the matter is electric vehicles are 60 times less likely to catch fire than a gas powered car, and 139 times less likely than a hybrid.
Had AXA actually launched a Tesla Model S with a battery pack, there was a pretty good chance that no fire would have happened. Also, the Tesla battery pack gives the Model S an extremely low center of gravity, so flipping the car would have been next to impossible, unless the battery was removed. Simply put, the The Model S used in this “demo” could have embarrassed AXA by either refusing to flip or catch on fire if it actually had its battery in the car.
A staged battery fire in a Tesla Model S without a battery. I can almost smell a lawsuit from Tesla coming.