Report: Leaked Tesla Emails Reveal Design Flaw in Batteries that Could Cause Breakdowns, Fires

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. The new Tesla factory is the former NUMMI plant. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Recently leaked emails from Elon Musk’s Tesla reveal that the company knew in 2012 of a battery design flaw in its Model S vehicles that could cause breakdown and even fires but sold the cars anyway.

Business Insider reports that recently leaked emails from 2012 reveal that Tesla was aware of a flaw in the design of the company’s Model S battery that could lead to breakdowns and fires but chose to sell the cars anyway. This news comes as owners of the company’s new Model Y vehicle complain of manufacturing issues including loose seatbelts and back seats.

Recently the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a probe into faulty Tesla Model S touch screens made from 2012-2015, encompassing 63,000 vehicles.

The 2012 emails reveal that as Tesla began to ship its Model S vehicles, the company was still dealing with a major design flaw that could lead to leaks inside the battery. The leaks could then cause the car’s battery to short or leave a flammable residue inside the battery, according to experts that spoke to Business Insider.

The issue related to a poorly designed cooling mechanism, a cooling coil or bandolier that wraps around the battery pushing coolant around to regulate temperature. According to internal emails and three sources with knowledge on the matter, the end fitting of the cooling coils was made from weak aluminum and tiny pinholes often formed where the male and female parts of the end fitting were supposed to braze together.

The part in question was tested by third-party companies twice, cooling coils were sent to a test lab called IMR Test Labs in upstate New York in July of 2012. According to a report from IMR, the end fittings on the cooling coils did not meet chemical requirements for a regulation strength aluminum alloy. A source claims that these results were shared with Tesla which ignored them and continued to deliver the vehicles. The company’s 2012 third-quarter earnings report shows that Tesla delivered more than 250 Model S cars.

Jason Schug, a Vice President at Ricardo Strategic Consulting, has done teardowns and examinations of Tesla’s Model S and X vehicles that share the same battery. According to Schug, if coolant leaked into a battery module the battery could be rendered useless.

Schug told Business Insider:

When we disassembled the Tesla Model X, a technician accidentally spilled coolant in the battery pack and it sat there for a long time. There was no immediate danger, but when we removed the battery modules quite a while later we found a lot of corrosion on the battery cells and it was bad enough that some of the cells were leaking electrolyte. If this were to happen in the field and go unnoticed, it could result in bricking the battery.

Read more at Business Insider here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address


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