A Tesla service center in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou was temporarily shut down after a fire broke out on-site, resulting in multiple vehicles being damaged, state media publication The Paper reported on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Damage from the incident was captured in a video that was widely shared on Chinese social media and will likely intensify concerns about the safety of electric vehicles, one of the existing barriers to wider EV adoption.  

Details: Footage of the fire posted by multiple Chinese online users showed that a Tesla in-house body repair center in Suzhou, a neighboring city of Shanghai, was engulfed by flame and thick clouds of smoke on July 8.

  • There were no reported deaths or injuries, though several Tesla vehicles were damaged by fire and heat. The cause of the fire is under investigation, local officials said. 
  • A crashed Tesla car with a damaged battery pack was involved in the incident, Sun Shaojun, a Chinese auto journalist, said on the Twitter-like platform Weibo.
  • A Tesla service representative confirmed the incident to state media outlet The Paper on Tuesday, saying that the company has temporarily closed the location without providing a timeline for when it will reopen.

Context: Tesla is not alone when it comes to such accidents. Last month, the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management reported 640 fire incidents involving EVs in the first quarter of 2022, a 32% increase from a year earlier. Battery damage, collision, and hot weather conditions are some of the leading causes.  

  • A fire was also reported at a BYD repair shop in the southern city of Nanning on July 9, which the automaker said was due to a “short circuit.”
  • Last month, a Voyah-branded electric crossover, produced by state-owned automaker Dongfeng, burst into flames on the street in the central Hubei province. No people were injured in the fire, which occurred on June 27.

Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen