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What’s Going On in the World of Tesla: Three Noteworthy Stories From Today

Another Tesla Model S fire, a change to Tesla's Chinese marketing pitch and an upcoming, longer range Model P100D.

The world’s most controversial-yet-beloved electric car maker, Tesla Motors, is continuing to dominate the news. A Tesla Model S reportedly caught fire in France during a test drive, Tesla pulled mention of “Autopilot” from its Chinese website after a Model S drove itself into another car then added the phrase back to its site, and now, it is looking more and more like extended-range P100D Tesla models will be added to the automaker’s lineup.

A Tesla Model S caught fire during a test drive in France.

A photo of a fully-engulfed Model S was posted to Reddit via its /r/Tesla community Monday morning with a summary explaining the incident. The user who posted the photo, “3dkSdkvDskReddit,” wrote that the fire occurred sometime earlier in the day in the southwestern French town of Biarritz. The user stated that a couple and one Tesla employee were inside the car when they heard a loud noise, but “not an explosion.” The car then displayed a “Problems with charging” message. After pulling the car to the side of the road at the recommendation of Tesla employee, it caught fire, and the group called the fire department. No one was injured.

Even though firefighters responded to the scene “quickly,” the Model S was a complete loss, Electrek reports. Tesla also told the electric car blog that the cause of the incident has not yet been determined and that it is “working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident.

The last time a Tesla caught fire in a similarly spectacular fashion was back in January in Norway. The difference here though is that car was hooked up to a supercharger when it caught fire, and this Model S in France was under way.

Tesla changed how it describes its Autopilot technologies on its Chinese website.

Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla dropped “Autopilot” and the Chinese word for “self-driving” from the Chinese website for its Model S after one of the sedans crashed into a stopped car on a busy Chinese highway earlier this month with the driver assistance function engaged, but then it added the phrase back and denied the word swap had anything to do with the recent incident.

Last week, The Drive reported on how the driver of that damaged Model S, Luo Zhen, felt he was sold the car as if it were a “self-driving” vehicle, which gave him overconfidence in the car’s abilities. He was not the only owner who felt that way. Reuters spoke with a handful of other Tesla owners who claimed they were under the impression their cars were self-driving because of how Tesla was marketing the car in their country. Previously, Tesla used the term “zidong jiashi” in its marketing, but Tesla has since removed it from its Model S website, Reuters reports. The phrase when translated to English means “self-driving.” Currently, Tesla’s Autopilot is a Level 2 autonomous function as classified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Level 4 is a full-autonomous self-driving car.

Now, Tesla is continuing to use the phrase “Autopilot” on its site, but only followed by the words “zidong fuzhu jiashi,” which in English translates to “automatic-assist driving,” The Washington Post reports.

A Tesla spokesperson issued the following statement to Reuters:

“At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations. We’ve been in the process of addressing any discrepancies across languages for many weeks. Timing had nothing to do with current events or articles.”

In related news, Chinese officials with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated earlier this month that drivers “could be liable” in incidents that occur with assist features like Tesla’s Autopilot. The deputy head of China’s Bureau of Work Safety also said that when completely self-driving cars start rolling out onto the country’s roads, car manufacturers will likely be liable for accidents involving autonomous driving. For now, Xin warns the people of his country to “not be overly reliant” on self-driving car tech.

P100D Teslas are closer than ever.


Documents unearthed by the Dutch technology blog Kenteken show Tesla has received approval from officials in The Netherlands to begin selling its Model S and Model X in a P100D trim. The documents indicate that the new models would be capable of driving 613 kilometers, or about 381 miles, on one charge. The current P90D Model S is rated at 346 miles of range by the New European Driving Cycle. For comparison, the P90D Model S in America is rated to have a 302 mile range by the EPA. Previously rumors of 100 kwh Teslas surfaced after hacker Jason Hughes found clues in the software of the current Model S.