AXA issues apology for staged Tesla Model S crash and fire

axa crash test
Credit: AGVS / UPSA | YouTube

After being caught staging a Tesla Model S crash and subsequent battery fire, AXA Insurance has published an apology on their website for “any misunderstandings caused” by their test.

On August 25 AXA set up an elaborate test where a Model S was pulled at speed by a cable attached to a Model X, launching it into a ramp where it flipped and within seconds of coming to a stop, burst on fire.

The test was set up to highlight the “dangers that can arise in accidents involving electric cars,” except for the fact the batteries in the Model S had been removed and the car was set on fire with pyrotechnics.

According to AXA the people watching the test were informed of those things, but they apparently forgot to include those details in their press release, photos, and videos that were subsequently released.

The insurance company said this could “mislead the public,” hence their apology.

In their apology the company also said the test “did not cause damage to the underbody of the car likely to trigger a battery fire, contrary to what the recorded images might suggest.”

While AXA did apologize, they continued to push the narrative that electric vehicles (EVs) are dangerous because of their speed, and that as a result drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) are more prone to accidents.

“AXA Switzerland statistics show that compared to drivers of traditional combustion vehicles, owners of electric cars are responsible for 50% more collisions causing damage to their own vehicle. They also show that drivers of powerful electric vehicles are more likely to cause damage to their own vehicle or to third-party vehicles.”

You can watch their crash test in the video, and the full apology (via Reddit) is included below the video.

AXA Switzerland takes the following position regarding the reactions to the crash tests carried out on August 25, 2022.

We regret that the 2022 edition of the crash tests may have conveyed a bad impression of electromobility or created misunderstandings about it. We are convinced that the switch to electric will play a central role in the future of automobile traffic. That is why we believe it is important to take a close look at electromobility and the safety it offers.

AXA Switzerland has been committed for more than 40 years to greater road safety. AXA Switzerland’s crash tests are part of our long-standing prevention work and make the general public aware of the risks of road traffic. They aim to strengthen prevention by drawing attention to certain risks highlighted by the statistics on claims, which we carry out as the leading motor insurer in Switzerland. In addition, they make it possible to anticipate new trends and risks, and to talk about them. Irrespective of vehicle makes and models, they are used to assess accident risks in general and cannot be compared to crash tests that follow the Euro NCAP standard. 

AXA Switzerland statistics show that, compared to drivers of traditional combustion vehicles, owners of electric cars are responsible for 50% more collisions causing damage to their own vehicle. They also show that drivers of powerful electric vehicles are more likely to cause damage to their own vehicle or to third-party vehicles. It is to these statistical results that we wanted to draw attention during this year’s crash tests, while presenting the dangers that can arise in accidents involving electric cars.

Unfortunately, we found a posteriori that the test and the communication could mislead the public, in particular the people who were not on site during the tests and who could not attend the various stages, who were duly commented and presented in context. 

During the simulation of an accident in which an electric car catches fire, we had to take measures to ensure the safety of the public. Thus, the test car had no battery and the fire was started remotely. In addition, the crash test carried out with a model of the Tesla brand did not cause damage to the underbody of the car likely to trigger a battery fire, contrary to what the recorded images might suggest. This test therefore did not confirm this accident scenario. We should have explicitly mentioned this fact in the communication following the test, in particular in the press release and in the images provided. 

In retrospect, this test intended to illustrate a supposed risk should have been designed differently. We made it clear in our press release that, according to statistics from AXA Switzerland, electric cars are no more prone to fire than conventional combustion vehicles. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the published images give a different impression when taken out of context.

We regret any misunderstandings caused and apologize. We will re-analyze this year’s crash tests in detail, learn from them and use them to strengthen our commitment to road safety in the future.

About Darryn John 5008 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-chief of Drive Tesla Canada | Darryn@DriveTeslaCanada.ca Have a Tesla tip? Email tips@driveteslacanada.ca, or DM us on Twitter @DriveTeslaca