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Tesla S catches fire; company value plunges $600 million

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The first fire incident in a Tesla vehicle was reported in the United States. The car that caught fire in Kent, Washington (near Seattle), and was destroyed by the fire. Officials said that the fire began in the vehicle’s battery pack. Tesla uses lithium-ion batteries in its vehicles. While such batteries are quicker to charge and provide more energy than other technologies, they are known to run hot, and, like all batteries, can explode if improperly handled.

The driver of the Tesla S apparently ran over some metal debris. A Tesla spokesperson said that the metal object directly hit one of the battery pack’s modules, causing the fire. The fire was contained to a small section at the front of the vehicle. No one was reported injured.

The Tesla S’s liquid-cooled batteries are mounted below the passenger floor. Earlier, Tesla had called the Model S the safest car in America, after it received a test score above those of its rivals, and even breaking the testing machine.

Tesla Motors Inc. shares fell more than 6 percent after the incident. Previously, an analyst had earlier downgraded the stock. The decline wiped $600 million off the company’s value, but the stock is still up 400 percent for the year. More than 150,000 vehicle fires per year are reported in the United States. There’s no evidence that lithium batteries are any more combustible than the gasoline used in internal-combustion engined cars.

Earlier this year, Meralco chairman Manny Pangilinan imported the first Tesla S in to the country to highlight Meralco’s electric-vehicle initiatives.

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