In a blog post today, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) CEO Elon Musk announced the automobile manufacturer would be adding a titanium shield and aluminum deflector plates to the underbody of the popular Model S vehicle.
Last year two Model S vehicles caught fire following accidents that resulted in underbody damage to the cars and ultimately caused them to be totaled. These instances generated a substantial amount of media coverage and also prompted an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However as a result of the announcement from Tesla today, the NHTSA noted it would be closing its investigation.
Musk highlighted that in the two fires widely reported on the two drivers were unharmed, and said Tesla has already updated Model S software to ensure that, at highway speeds, their ground clearance was increased. However, the firm "felt it was important to bring this risk down to virtually zero to give Model S owners complete peace of mind."
As a result, Tesla has installed a triple underbody shield made of titanium and aluminum to all vehicles manufactured beginning March 6, and it will also provide them to all existing vehicles during routine service or immediately upon request.
Musk noted the first of the shields is a hollow and round aluminum bar to deflect objects, which is followed by a titanium plate. The final part is an aluminum shield that "absorbs impact energy, provides another layer of deflection and finally causes the Model S to ramp up and over the object if it is essentially incompressible and immovable."
Musk concluded his blog post introducing the shields by noting, "With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla. The addition of the underbody shields simply takes it a step further."