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Insurance company fakes battery fire on a Tesla Model S to prove EVs are dangerous (video)

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The arena is all set up, the audience is excited, and the Tesla Model S starts its short run — hits a boulder, rolls over — a few seconds go by and flames start to erupt from the vehicle’s floor — where the battery pack is installed — applause — firefighters arrive at the scene — cut!

But the most interesting part is that everything was real in this staged demonstration except for the battery pack in the Tesla — there were no batteries inside — they were pyrotechnics — the flames were fake.

AXA, the French multinational insurance company gave apparently gave this demonstration to its customers to instill the fear of electric vehicles in their hearts. Inside the Tesla Community, this phenomenon is known as FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

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Battery pack fires are very rare for Tesla EVs, until and unless it’s a severe-enough accident that surpasses all the safety measures installed into a Tesla vehicle. Data from a study spanning 9 years (2012 – 2021), the ratio of Tesla battery pack fires is 1 for every 210 million miles traveled.

From 2012 – 2021, there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 210 million miles traveled. By comparison, data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation shows that in the United States there is a vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled.

In order to provide an apt comparison to NFPA data, Tesla’s data set includes instances of vehicle fires caused by structure fires, arson, and other things unrelated to the vehicle, which account for some of the Tesla vehicle fires over this time period.

Source: Tesla vehicle safety report

Related: Tesla offers insurance based on real-time driving behavior in the United States

After a story was published on 24Auto.de, the insurance company issued a statement and admitted that this fire was actually fake and created with pyrotechnics.

“Demonstrating a battery fire would have been too dangerous due to the guests present, which is why the battery cells of the electric cars were removed before the tests,” AXA stated in a press release.

Since there was a substantial audience present at this show and the event was recorded, the damage to the image of electric vehicles and Tesla had already been done.

Tesla Model S burning after the fake battery fire erupts from the car at a demonstration by insurance company AXA. Credit: AXA.
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Since there was no battery present in the vehicle, there was no power to rotate the electric motors. The Tesla Model S used in this defaming demonstration was pushed forward through a towing mechanism like the one we see in safety crash tests.

Even when releasing a statement, the insurance company which orchestrated this show did not apologize to the electric car community.

Perhaps, AXA wanted to show the downsides of owning an electric vehicle or Tesla which would incur extra insurance costs and insurance companies are hesitant to provide the cover in such rare cases even.

In the video recording of this event (below), we can see that the insurance company has a Tesla Model X in the arena as well. The Model X in this video seems to have a battery inside because it was properly driving. Nothing surfaced on what purpose the Model X served at this public demonstration.

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Video: AXA Insurance demonstrating a Tesla Model S battery fire using pyrotechnics (fake fire).

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on XAutoWorld.com, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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