Tesla says single battery module caused car fire in Shanghai, has changed vehicle settings

BEIJING/TOKYO (Reuters) - Electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla Inc TSLA.O said on Friday a single battery module caused a car to catch fire in Shanghai and it had revised its vehicle settings to further protect its batteries following an investigation into the incident.

FILE PHOTO - A Tesla logo is seen on a wheel rim during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

The company said in a statement posted on its Weibo social media account that the joint investigation team had conducted an investigation and analysis of the battery, software, manufacturing data and vehicle history.

The investigation found no system defect, and the initial findings show the incident was caused by a single battery module located at the front of the vehicle, Tesla said.

Japanese battery manufacturer Panasonic 6752.T supplies Tesla with battery cells, but not modules, which are a group of cells joined together.

The company has revised the charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air (OTA) software update, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity, the statement said.

A parked Tesla Model S caught fire in Shanghai on April 21.

Tesla has said its EVs are about 10 times less likely to experience a fire than petrol-powered cars.

Tesla's local competitor Nio Inc NIO.N said on Weibo on Thursday that some battery modules in its cars might have safety issues as well, and that it would recall 4,803 units after three fire incidents in China.

Safety of electric vehicles is a growing issue in China, the world’s largest new energy vehicle (NEV) market, where 1.3 million NEVs were sold last year.

China’s industry ministry asked carmakers this month to carry out safety investigations on waterproof protection, high-voltage harnesses, in-vehicle charging devices, and battery boxes in their cars.

Reporting by Yilei Sun in BEIJING, Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Tom Hogue