A Tesla Model Y owner in Los Angeles was washing her car yesterday when she suddenly started smelling smoke. Moments later smoke was billowing from the front of the car, leading to the vehicle becoming a complete loss.
The unfortunate incident happened to Rita Solomon, who shared her ordeal on the Tesla Model Y Facebook group. According to Solomon, she was washing her car when the “back doors and windows” opened by themselves. In her attempts to close them she first approached the front driver side door, but it was locked.
She then went to try the passenger side, and that is when she smelled smoke.
“[I] was washing [my Model Y] on a beautiful day here in LA. My back doors and windows popped open. I did not understand what was going on. When I went to get into the driver seat the door was locked. So I went to the passenger seat to try to roll up the windows. That’s when I smelled smoke. I ran into my house to get my phone and a fire extinguisher.”
Solomon says the car was not plugged in, no heat or air conditioning was on at the time, and that it had been sitting in the driveway for about one hour before she began washing it. She also added the car’s battery was charged to about 200 miles (321 km).
Needless to say the car is a total loss. She shared several pictures of the interior, which interestingly shows the fire to have been quite localized to an area behind the dash on the driver’s side, possibly around the 12v battery.
She also shared a video of the incident, showing firefighters putting a garden hose directly into this area.
Fortunately no one was injured in the incident. Solomon has attempted to reach out to Tesla, but has so far been able to contact anyone at the company.
While the incident is alarming, fires in Tesla vehicles are relatively rare. It is important to remember there are over one million vehicle fires every year, many of them leading to deaths. According to figures from Tesla Technoking Elon Musk, Tesla vehicles are over 500% less likely to catch fire than combustion engine cars.
Reality is a Tesla, like most electric cars, is over 500% *less* likely to catch fire than combustion engine cars, which carry massive amounts of highly flammable fuel. Why is this never mentioned?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2019
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated the car was only 200 miles old. That was incorrect, in her original statement Solomon stated the battery had 200 miles left on it. This has been corrected.