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.
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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