The impact in a fatal accident involving a Tesla electric car may have set off a fire in the vehicle’s battery, according to Swiss firefighters.
A 48-year-German driver died on Thursday when his car hit the barrier in the central reservation of a motorway in the southern canton of Ticino, turned over and burst into flames.
The crash is one of several accidentsexternal link to affect Tesla vehicles in recent days.
“The violent impact of Lithium-ion batteries could probably have caused a phenomenon called ‘thermal runaway’, i.e. a rapid and unstoppable increase in temperature,” Ticino fire brigade said on its Facebook page on Monday.
Lithium-ion batteries can, under very exceptional circumstances, have a sudden and unstoppable increase in temperature, in a sort of chain reaction that leads to the complete destruction of the batteries and the car, said fire safety expert Guido Zaccarelli in an article quoted by the firefighters.
A Tesla spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened by this accident, and we are working to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation to local authorities.”