Interested in a Tesla Model S? Wary of making the purchase for fear of a freak fiery explosion involving road debris that ignites the battery pack? Worry no more! Elon Musk's got you covered with the mighty power of titanium.
In a post on Medium today, Musk announced that in light of the two "extremely unusual" crashes last year that led to fires in Model S-es, all new cars made after March 6 are equipped with a triple underbody shield. Older Teslas can be retrofitted with the shield free of charge.
The shield is set up like this. The first layer is a rounded, hollow aluminum bar that can deflect high strength objects. The second is a titanium plate with strength levels similar to what you see on military and aerospace applications that can crush most objects it encounters. The third layer is a shallow angle, solid aluminum extrusion that further absorbs impact energy.
Watch it destroy things.
Musk said that while he thinks it's unfair the two Model S fiery crashes grabbed all the headlines when 200,000 gasoline car fires occurred in the same year and no injuries resulted from either, he wants to "bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind."
During the course of 152 vehicle level tests, the shields prevented any damage that could cause a fire or penetrate the existing quarter inch of ballistic grade aluminum armor plate that already protects the battery pack. We have tried every worst case debris impact we can think of, including hardened steel structures set in the ideal position for a piking event, essentially equivalent to driving a car at highway speed into a steel spear braced on the tarmac.
In impressive safety feature for sure, and to be fair, the Model S is considered by federal regulators to be among the safest cars on the road. Musk claims a track record of zero deaths or serious injuries in a Tesla car; as they become more popular and as Tesla tries to ramp up production, let's hope it can stay that way.