Leaked Tesla emails from 2012 suggest that the automaker knew about design flaws in the Tesla Model S’ battery pack

An article on Business Insider has hit the surface suggesting that when Tesla rolled out the Model S from its Fremont factory back in 2012, it knew about a potential design flaw that could lead to battery packs catching fire.

The author hasn’t provided evidence for the same, but if true, this is a serious issue that could bring Tesla under scrutiny and hurt its credibility to a large extent.

Tesla Apparently Knew About The Flawed Batteries But Still Sold The Vehicles

Business Insider has reported that early batches of Tesla Model S were shipped with a flawed battery pack design. These batteries were prone to coolant leaks, and if dried up, it could catch fire. The publication spoke to three former employees and went through various internal e-mails and documents.

The e-mails reported that the end fitting of the cooling coil was made from weak aluminum and it was vulnerable to pinholes and cracks. One employee even referred to the fitting at the end of the coil as “hanging by a thread”.

This part was tested by third-party companies twice, which included testing by a test lab called IMR Labs in New York in July 2012. Business Insider reviewed these reports and found that the end fittings of these coils didn’t meet the requirements. The automaker continued to find leaking coils through the end of 2011, and despite being brought to the attention of senior management, these cars were sold to customers. About 250 Model S’ were sold during the third quarter of 2012.

Tesla Has Had to Adress Vehicle Fires In the Past, Toot

The Model S has had its share of shortcomings over the years when it comes to such susceptibilities and Tesla has made changes to reduce the risk of fire over the years. The outlet said that it is unclear when Tesla changed the part’s design. As TheVerge has noted, in 2013, the automaker released a software update that made the sedan ride higher at highway speeds to protect the battery pack from debris.

More physical protection was added from the factory after the NHTSA investigated into multiple fire cases. In 2016, Tesla released another software update that is said to “provide extra security during charging”. This was done after a Model S caught fire in Norway that year.


Uh-Oh: Tesla Makes the Worst-Built Cars in the U.S., J.D. Power Finds
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This isn’t good news for Tesla considering it was recently ranked last in JD Power’s annual study of new-vehicle quality. These are serious accusations against the automaker and could hurt Tesla quite a bit in the long run.

However, Business Insider has not provided any evidence to follow up on these allegations. We’ll have to wait and see how Tesla responds to these accusations.

Source: Business Insider

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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