Friday, March 28, 2014

Tesla Adds Additional Shielding to Prevent Fires From Impact

Elon Musk posted a blog explaining a new initiative taken by Tesla to further reduce the risk of car fires triggered by impact with road debris. There were two car fires last year caused by the car hitting metal road debris at high speed which punctured the battery compartment beneath the car. The blog can be read at Tesla Adds Titanium Underbody Shield and Aluminum Deflector Plates to Model S.

The main points of interest to me as an owner were:

  • Gas cars had 200,000 car fires last year. The Tesla had two.
  • There are existing safeguards in place to prevent injury because the car warns the driver ahead of time and there is a firewall that protects passengers in case of fire.
  • They are going a step further by adding this new shielding to reduce the risk to "virtually zero"
  • They will retrofit this new shielding into existing cars on request or during normal service.
The blog also has short looping animated GIFs that show video from the undercarriage of the car and how debris impacts beneath the car with the new underbody protection. Take a look at the blog, its very interesting.

My personal take is that I feel like I'm in good hands with Tesla Motors in general. Their service center has taken good care of me so far and I feel like the company is proactively addressing issues with the car with the goal to exceed gas cars in quality and safety. Still pretty happy with my Model S.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Door Handles and Great Service

Since my Model S was delivered fairly early (December 2012), there were some upgraded parts that didn't make it to my car. One of those was the door handles. One of the issues with the original version of the door handles is that their sensor sometimes trips incorrectly. So a couple of times, I can remember parking the car, hitting the Park button and then one of the doors pops open. The root cause is that the original door handle relied only on the feel of your hand on the handle to determine if someone was opening it and had a narrow margin of error so the sensor would sometimes trip even if you didn't touch it. I noticed this sometimes would happen if it were a little humid outside. If you bring this up to service, they will offer to change out the door handles for the new design under warranty. The new design is similar but will pull out just a little when you pull them. In other words, instead of that completely solid feel, the handle has some "give" and pulls out just slightly when you tug on them. This makes them more reliable and less likely to accidentally trip.

I liked the original door handles and how they operate and felt. I got used to the solid feel to them and so was resisting having them changed out for a while. But yesterday morning, my driver side door handle stopped working entirely. So my hand was forced. Cool thing is, they arranged to send out techs to my location (I was at work) the same day, to valet my car for me from there over to the service center, replace all door handles in addition to standard service checks, and then bring the car back to me before my work day was out. That amazes me. I never have had such convenience from any car company. They didn't inconvenience me in any way. Kudos to Tesla! Thanks.

Tesla Model S Extended Door Handle