Tesla Responds to 'Extraordinarily Unusual' Video Of Their Car Seemingly Catching Fire
By Brian Haas and Zach Seemayer
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts
West Wingactress Mary McCormack is calling out electric car maker Tesla after her husband's car apparently randomly caught fire in traffic.
The video, posted to Twitter on Friday, shows the Tesla parked on the side of Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, with a small jet of flame shooting out from underneath it. McCormack wrote on Twitter that her husband, British director and producer Michael Morris, was barely moving in traffic and that the car didn't have the autopilot feature, which has been under scrutiny as of late.
"This is an extraordinarily unusual occurrence, and we are investigating the incident to find out what happened," a Tesla spokesperson told ET in a statement on Sunday. "Our initial investigation shows that the cabin of the vehicle was totally unaffected by the fire due to our battery architecture, which is designed to protect the cabin in the very rare event that a battery fire occurs. While our customer had time to safely exit the car, we are working to understand the cause of the fire. We’re glad our customer is safe."
"@Tesla This is what happened to my husband and his car today," McCormack wrote alongside the video of her husband's flaming vehicle on Friday. "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. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him."
The couple's three children are 13-year-old Margaret, 11-year-old Rose and 6-year-old Lillian.
@Tesla This is what happened to my husband and his car today. 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. And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him pic.twitter.com/O4tPs5ftVo
According to Tesla Motors, fires in their electric vehicles are very rare, especially in comparison to fires experienced by operators of gas-fueled cars.
The company claims that, based on the 300,000 cars they've produced -- which have collectively driven over 7.5 billion miles -- there are only five incidents of cars catching fire per billion miles traveled.
In comparison, the company cites data collected by the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Federal Highway Administration that shows there are 55 incidents of fire for every billion miles driven when looking at all automobiles in the country.
Tesla also claimed that they intentionally designed their batteries, and the placement of their batteries, to minimize the potential for catastrophic or fatal damage in the event of a fire.
They claim that, given the design and multiple redundant safeguards, any fire that might occur would spread much more slowly than one in a gas car, giving customers a much better opportunity to exit the vehicle safely.
For a look back at The West Wing, watch the video below.