Tesla Model S has been reported to flip, slide along its roof for a hundred feet, and then explode. It appears like a dramatic movie scene of a car chase, but insurance company AXA just pretended it naturally happened during a publicity event. However, the company admitted it didn’t. The admission came after questioning from the German automotive publication 24Auto.de.
The rollover was one of two staged crashes used to demonstrate the supposed dangers of electric cars. AXA claimed that it showed what could happen when the “very high torque” of an EV caused a driver to lose control during acceleration.
AXA stated this was to demonstrate that the “underbody seems to be the Achilles heel of electric cars because the battery is not protected there,” even if they had high amounts of protection on their undercarriage.
The company did not state whether the fire was staged until 24Auto questioned the insurance company directly. AXA clarified later that “a battery fire would have been too dangerous due to the guests present” and so all the battery cells had been removed from the Tesla prior to the stunt. The fire was planned with pyrotechnics and AXA said it “apologize[d] if we gave the wrong impression.”
This was done so the company could draw attention to its study that found that drivers of EVs in Switzerland are involved in 50% more accidents with damage to their cars. The second test, a head-on collision between an e-Golf and an ICE Golf, was to prove that EVs are heavier than ICE cars.
Overall, it still doesn’t justify blowing up the vehicle like this. The company gave the justification that the insurer staged its own crash likely wouldn’t have damaged the battery enough to cause an actual fire.