‘Problems with charging’: Tesla S bursts in flames during test drive in France

No injuries were reported in the fire. © Beck Diefenbach
A Tesla Model S reportedly burst into flames during a test drive in western France, in the latest in a series of dangerous incidents related to the all-electric carmaker.

During a test drive in Biarritz, the vehicle’s driver pulled over after receiving a message stating there were “problems with charging,” according to the Reddit user 3dkSdkvDskReddit, who claimed he received information via WhatsApp from a friend who was at the site of the fire.

They went on to explain that the three occupants exited the car following a loud noise shortly before the car caught fire.

No one was injured in the incident and the blaze was safely put out by the fire brigade, according to the Redditor.

Speaking to Teslarati, a Tesla spokesperson said, “we are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation. The passengers are all unharmed. They were able to safely exit the vehicle before the incident occurred.”

Seventeen cars catch fire per hour in the US, most of which are filled with gasoline, resulting in 209 deaths annually, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Agency.

The Tesla Model S safety record is being heavily scrutinized as it puts its Autopilot through a “public beta phase”.

A Model S driver in Ohio was killed this past May while in Autopilot when it failed to detect a tractor-trailer making a left turn.

Shortly afterwards, Tesla announced that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) had opened a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot in the crash.

READ MORE: Federal gov’t opens investigation into first known Tesla Autopilot fatality

Tesla claims the Autopilot function has managed more than 130 million miles without a fatality. A fatality occurs every 94 million miles in the US and every 60 million miles globally, the company added.

Two accidents in 2013 that resulted in Model S fires led to Tesla adding a titanium underbody shield and aluminum deflector plate to the vehicle to block debris puncturing the battery pack. Since the addition, no fires were reported until the incident in Biarritz.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been criticized for his decision to push the Autopilot system on public roads so quickly, with other car manufacturers accusing him of doing so before the technology is safe enough.

Following a crash in China, the company removed the terms “autopilot” and “self-driving” from its Chinese website. The driver involved, who escaped uninjured, complained that the company misled buyers by overplaying the terms.