While the batteries are “generally safe”, the impact at high speeds could lead to “heat release,” said Mitchell Weston, chief investigator at the Harris County Fire Prevention Police Office. uncontrolled contact between different materials in the battery.
The Safety Committee warns in its report that the release of heat can lead to a fire, as well as “reactivating the battery”, even after the initial flame is extinguished. Mitsubishi Electric warns that “heat release can lead to catastrophic consequences, including fire, explosion, sudden system failure, costly equipment damage and possible personal injury”.
A fire police office spokesperson is investigating the fire in the crash. Constable Herman said his department is working with federal agencies to investigate.
He said law enforcement officials contacted Tesla on Saturday for “guidance on certain things” but declined to discuss the nature of the conversations.
Tesla, the company that disbanded its public relations team, did not respond to a request for comment.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, earlier on Saturday advertised a recent safety report from the company, writing on Twitter that “Tesla and Autopilot joined are now 10 times less likely to have an accident than conventional vehicles.”
Tesla, on its website, calls the Autopilot “the future of driving”, says the feature allows its vehicles to “automatically drive, accelerate and brake in their lanes”. However, it warns that “current Autopilot features require active supervision of the driver and do not make the vehicle automatic.”
In 2016, a Florida driver was killed in a Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode and failed to brake in time for a tractor that was turning left ahead.