The Norman Transcript

Headlines

October 4, 2013

Electric cars face safety challenges

NORMAN — When debris on a Seattle-area freeway pierced the battery of a $70,000-plus Tesla Model S and touched off a raging fire, it raised new safety concerns for electric-vehicle owners.

It also caused rare jitters among investors, who of late have viewed Tesla as nearly invincible.

Electric vehicles have scored well in government tests of front and side crashes — the Model S earned the highest score possible. But Tuesday’s incident demonstrates that real-world driving could reveal some vulnerabilities that don’t show up in laboratory testing.

“The safety challenges related to electric cars are still in the early stages of being tested and addressed,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

Tesla said the Seattle-area driver hit a large metal object in the road, which damaged a battery cell and caused a fire. The company said the car acted as designed by containing the blaze in the front of the car.

Still, experts said Thursday that while incidents like this will happen again, they are rare. And electric cars still are safer than those with gasoline engines that haul around a tank full of flammable petroleum.

The Tesla fire also shows that automakers need to bolster the shields around batteries and that firefighters need more training to deal with electric car blazes.

Of the estimated 194,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. each year, the vast majority are in cars and trucks with gasoline or diesel engines. Electric vehicles make up less than 1 percent of the cars sold in the U.S.

Tesla said this is the only fire ever to happen in one of its batteries. Although a Chevrolet Volt made by General Motors caught fire two years ago after a government crash test, neither GM nor Nissan, which make the top-selling electric cars in the nation, know of any real-world blazes in their vehicles.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Coaches Luncheon Mixon question off-limits at coaches luncheon

    Toby Rowland addressed the elephant in the room even before Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel arrived Wednesday at Journey Church....

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mixon will not participate in practice

    Preseason practice begins for Oklahoma today. Freshman running back Joe Mixon will not be there. The school announced the decision Wednesday night....

    July 31, 2014

  • Nova Pettigrew Music community bands together to raise money for 2-year-old’s battle with rare form of cancer

    Two-year old Nova Pettigrew was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer six weeks ago. Her father, former Deli sound technician and musician James Pettigrew, noticed something was wrong when running turned to walking, then limping, then ...

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deputies cleared, return to work

    Two deputies involved in a deadly shooting earlier this month are expected to return to work today after being cleared by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office. “They (the Sheriff’s Office) gave me their investigation, I ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Sales tax-free weekend set to begin this weekend

    When stores open Friday morning, shoppers may be waiting. Oklahoma’s annual sales tax holiday is slated to run this weekend with the special exemption beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and ending at midnight on Sunday....

    July 31, 2014

  • India landslide kills 21

    NEW DELHI — Rescuers worked in rain today to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 21 people died as a landslide swept away scores of houses, possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said....

    July 31, 2014

  • Israeli strike hits UN school

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel’s stepped up campaign against ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Busted water main dumps 20 million gallons of water into UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and adjacent garage

    LOS ANGELES — The rupture of a nearly century-old water main that ripped a 15-foot hole through Sunset Boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a mucky mess points to the risks and expense many cities ...

    July 31, 2014

  • GOP-led House gives go-ahead for suit

    WASHINGTON — A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Just a day before ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Randall Lee Sherrill, 34, possession of juvenile pornography · Dewey Leon Kinsey, 37, possession of controlled dangerous ...

    July 31, 2014