Actress Mary McCormack, best known for her role on the political drama “The West Wing,” called Tesla out on Saturday after her husband’s Model S abruptly caught fire while in traffic, a sight she captured on video and has since been shared widely on social media. The incident caught the attention of General Motors, which attempted to garner some sweet PR juju by offering McCormack a Chevy Bolt EV—currently the main competitor to Tesla’s Model 3 sedan—as a loaner in the meantime. Hot damn. GM says it’s a one-time thing, however, and won’t be a concrete policy.
Footage of the crash posted by McCormack showed flames spouting out from under the car of her spouse, British director Michael Morris.
“This is what happened to my husband and his car today,” she captioned the post. “No accident, out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Thank you to the kind couple who flagged him down and told him to pull over.”
Parents of three kids, McCormack also added: “And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him.”
Tesla told news outlets in a statement that it’s cooperating with authorities.
“This is an extraordinarily unusual occurrence, and we are investigating the incident to find out what happened,” the statement said.
After the video started circulating widely, GM spokesperson Ray Wert said the automaker had reached out to McCormack and offered her a Bolt EV as a loaner, before adding this light jab: “so she has a more dependable electric vehicle to drive.” Ouch.
When I asked Wert on Monday whether GM had plans to start offering Bolts as loaners to replace any Tesla car that catches on fire, Wert said it’s a one-time situation—he’s friends with McCormack’s sister—and pointed to his additional posts on Twitter for clarity.
Tesla fires have caught an immense amount of attention as of late, after a fatal crash in Florida left two teenagers dead. In that crash, the car burst into flames after a Tesla Model S slammed into a concrete wall. And in a recent fatal Model X crash, authorities had to put out a fire after the car’s battery reignited days later.
The Bolt, meanwhile, is turning out to be a slam dunk for GM. The automaker sold 26,000 Bolt EVs last year, of which 94 percent went to regular car buyers, not fleets. In response, the company said it’s planning to ramp up production of the Bolt in the coming months to meet demand.