What happens when lightning strikes near a charging Tesla Model S

By Shawn Knight
Jun 2, 2015
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  1. Electric vehicles like those from Tesla present some pretty unique use case scenarios. For example, what would happen to a Model S if a bolt of lightning struck nearby… while you happened to be tethered to a Supercharger recharging station?

    Now we have our answer.

    Sarah Day found herself in this very situation recently and incredibly enough, she happened to have her dashcam rolling at the time.

    As Day tells Teslaratti, she heard a very loud crash and just a second or two later, nine or so errors popped up on the dashboard. Some were warning her about a low charge that would disable select features while others chimed that the car needed to be serviced, the car couldn’t be charged and that the 12 volt battery was low.

    Once the storm passed, Day got out of the car and realized the charging port wasn’t lit up. Interestingly enough, she also wasn’t able to remove the charging cable from its port. Tesla dispatched a tow truck but without being able to remove the charging cable, it was of little use.

    That’s all we know at this time as Day hasn’t yet provided an update to the publication or on her YouTube video. She did note, however, that the Tesla support team was excellent and offered to rent her a car and pay for a hotel room (she was out of town at the time).

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,527   +688

    WOW .... Not surprisely when you consider how much voltage / amperage in the average lightning strike, but I certainly wish FORD was that responsive when you have a problem with one of their products!!!
    cmbjive, madboyv1 and davislane1 like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,384   +2,171

    1. Excellent customer service.
    2. Excellent reason to avoid EVs in storm-prone areas.
    cmbjive likes this.
  4. It would probably activate the time circuits and travel back in time to 1958!!!!!!
  5. Yet I've seen a golf 5 hit with the same amount of voltage as a lighting strike and all that happened was a few warning lights on the dash but it still started up without a problem.
    davislane1 likes this.
  6. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,349   +1,945

    Not serious at all, Tesla will probably sort it out gratis. The safest place to be in an electrical storm is in your vehicle... That or a Faraday cage but they're like cops, there's never one around when you need one.
    RebelFlag likes this.
  7. NicktheWVAHick

    NicktheWVAHick TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +36

    Electricity is just so dangerous. I'm sticking to much safer gasoline.
  8. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus TS Evangelist Posts: 1,540   +288

    Does anyone have a video of what happens when there is a lightning strike while you are filling your gas tank?
  9. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,249   +220

    Ironman Mode, that's what happens.
  10. RebelFlag

    RebelFlag TS Addict Posts: 134   +66

    The best thing to do in a lightning storm is to hold up a 1 iron......because even God can't hit a 1 iron. :)
    OortCloud and Wendig0 like this.
  11. JordLevy

    JordLevy TS Member

    I'm pretty sure Tesla will disclose what needs to be disclosed about this issue.
    To all those saying that being in a petrol car is safer than an a Tesla, I'm pretty sure there's no difference in safety.

    Also let's not forget that this person happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, which I'm sure Tesla will implement safeguards to avoid this in the future...
  12. risc32

    risc32 TS Booster Posts: 187   +75

    I've never seen a ford at a as station with the gas pump fused to the vehicle, while it's ecu has gone crazy, and there are millions and millions of them all over the earth.

    yeah, they could add an auto driving feature tied to a gps with weather updates and your car would just route you away from storms.........

    if you think a lighting bolt that arcs across air at great distances is going to be concerned with rubber tires and car roofs, you are more trusting than I.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2015
  13. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 633   +163

    It's because it was connected to the grid and the grid nearby got hit, that massive power spike went into the vehicle via the charging cable and fried stuff. You could happily drive through lightning storms as long as its not plugged into external power.
  14. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,432   +473

    I thought the car was going to emit a movie-like discharge or something spectacular, sad to say I'm disapointed on how normal besides the car not starting this was :p

    You won the internet today sir.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  15. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,101   +95

    If only she were driving 88mph at the time... Now that would make for a cool video.
  16. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,384   +2,171

    Poe's law is in effect. At 88, road noise from the tires & rain would have negated much of the thunder and you'd just have a flash.

    Unless she was charging at 88 via some type of mobile platform... That would have been spectacular.
  17. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 6,964   +355

    88 mph is a reference to the movie, Back to the Future.
  18. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,384   +2,171

  19. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,527   +688

    Hmmmmmmm ..... I wonder if all those Pinto's had a gas pump near by? It sure wasen't lightning that hit them! LOL
  20. ypsylon

    ypsylon TS Enthusiast Posts: 69   +9

    It's nothing spectacular. I know a guy who drives trucks for a living and he had similar problems on many occasions. And we talking about normal trucks. He is driving Volvos and MANs most of the times and few times after nearby (anything between 50-1000m) lighting strikes he was helpless. Rig just came to a halt, with half of electronics fried. You don't need EV car for posers. Same thing can happen (with the exception of car being welded to charging point lol) with normal cars which are *****ically overstuffed with electronics (pretty much everything from 2000->).

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