Axa Insurance issued an apology for the fake Tesla battery fire today. A few days ago, the company was on a mission to prove that Tesla’s batteries could ignite and simulated a test on public streets. The test includes a Tesla Model S, pyrotechnics but did not include the batteriesthe main object they were trying to prove would catch fire.
Today, Axa published an apology letter saying it regretted that this year’s edition of the crash tests “may have left a bad impression of electromobility or created misunderstandings”.
Axa said it has been committed to improving road safety for more than 40 years and that its crash tests are part of its preventative work to educate the general public. At the time, the company said its statistics showed EV owners were “ responsible for 50% more collisions causing damage to their own vehicle’ compared to drivers of traditional internal combustion vehicles.
“They also show that drivers of high-powered electric vehicles are more likely to cause damage to their own car or to third-party vehicles. It is these statistical results that we wanted to draw attention to during this year’s crash tests, while also presenting the dangers that can occur in accidents with electric cars,” said Axa.
The company said it realizes that these particular tests could mislead the public, especially anyone who was not present during the tests and who was unable to attend the testing at various stages.
“During the simulation of an accident involving an electric car catching fire, we had to take measures to ensure the safety of the public. So the test car is without a battery and the fire is lit remotely. In addition, the crash test performed on a Tesla model did not cause damage to the underside of the vehicle that would cause a battery fire, contrary to what recorded images might suggest. Therefore, this test did not confirm this accident scenario. We should have explicitly mentioned this fact in the announcement after the test, specifically in the press release and in the images provided.”
“In retrospect, this test, designed to illustrate a perceived risk, should have been designed differently. We clarified in our press release that according to AXA Switzerland statistics, electric cars are no more susceptible to fire than conventional internal combustion vehicles. However, we must recognize that the published images create a different impression when taken out of context.”
“We regret any misunderstandings caused and apologize. We will analyze this year’s crash tests in detail, learn from them and use them to strengthen our commitment to road safety in the future.”
It’s good that Axa is taking ownership here, but I find it odd that they’re only doing so after being called out by various media outlets for faking the battery fire. However, my questions remain unanswered.
How is it legal for any company to test an open vehicle like this on public roads? If they were concerned about safety, they shouldn’t have tested and torched cars in places where innocent people could get hurt. Did they have permission or some kind of approval from a testing agency? Maybe in Europe they do things differently. I’m not an expert in crash testing. My guess is that NHTSA will have their own testing facility that is away from the public. I may be wrong.
If they want to do these tests the right way, then they need to find a safe place that does not allow public access and test the electric cars there – with the batteries in the vehicle.
Note: Jonah is a Tesla shareholder and supports its mission.