A sharp turn on a wet two lane road in Luxembourg led to a crash between a Tesla Model S and a Mercedes GLA 250 on Monday. Both cars were heavily damaged. After the collision, the Mercedes burst into flames. No further details are available online, but the fact that the driver’s door of the Mercedes was open afterwards suggests the driver was able to exit the vehicle before it caught on fire. See the picture here.
We often hear about the awesome performance of Tesla automobiles. YouTube is full of videos showing a Tesla defeating some supercar at the dragstrip. Others show passengers looking shocked and amazed by how fast the cars accelerate. It’s all down to the laws of physics, of course. An electric motor develops maximum torque at zero rpm. An internal combustion engine usually needs to rev to 3,000 rpm or more before hitting its torque peak. At the dragstrip, the Tesla blasts forward as soon as the lights go green. The ICE equipped car in the next lane looks like it is tied to a tree in comparison.
Safety is not something that you can see by looking at a car, but the Tesla Model S has the highest crash test ratings of any car you can buy. In both US and European crash tests, it earns 5 stars. When the Model S was tested for roof strength, it broke the testing equipment. Tesla says it was unable to make the new Model X roll over during its internal testing. Rated one of the safest SUVs , Elon Musk says the risk of injury in a Model X collision is half that of other similar vehicles.
Add in Tesla’s advanced Autopilot system that can anticipate a crash and help avoid it and you have a fortress on wheels that can protect occupants better than almost any other car on the road. Last week in Norway, Elon Musk revealed that data collected since Tesla’s Autopilot software was activated last fall shows that using the system reduces the risk of a collision by 50%.
Elon Musk says that nationwide, vehicle fires occur once every 20 million miles driven. But the risk of a vehicle fire in a Tesla is 80% less — one per 100 million miles. That was back in 2013. Tesla has taken measures to reduce that risk even further since then.
We don’t know whether Autopilot was engaged at the time of this accident. Considering how narrow the road is and how sharp the turn, it probably was not. We also don’t know who was a fault. But considering the damage to each vehicle afterwards, which one would you and your family prefer to be riding in?