US electric carmaker Tesla said on Monday it was investigating a video that had gone viral in China that appeared to show one of its cars spontaneously catching fire.
“After finding out about this incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent a team to the scene. We are currently contacting relevant departments to understand the situation. Based on current information, no one was hurt,” Tesla wrote on Weibo, the main Chinese social media site.
The footage, which circulated on Weibo on Sunday, shows a Tesla Model S in a Shanghai parking garage. It begins to emit smoke from under the hood before bursting into flames, also clearly damaging the Audi parked next to it.
The incident could provide another major stumbling block to Tesla’s bumpy start in the Chinese market.
In March, a labeling mistake forced customs officers in Shanghai to suspend clearance for Tesla cars. A few months earlier, the auto firm had to recall 14,000 Model S cars that had been made with faulty airbags from Japanese company Takata.
Tesla’s Chinese ambitions have also been hampered by the trade war between Washington and Beijing. For now, Tesla has had to rely on exporting its cars to China, though it is in the midst of building its first overseas plant in Shanghai in the hope of minimizing the impact of tariffs.
The automaker claims that its electric vehicles are about 10 times less likely to catch on fire than gasoline-powered cars, based on studies conducted on their fleet of 500,000 cars that have driven a combined 10 billion miles.
es/sms (AFP, Reuters)
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