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interview > eberhard > eberhard 21

Eberhard 21 (1:07)
Topic(s): Electric & Hybrid
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Eberhard

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Safety is, of course, critical to Tesla Motors. Not only is it a legal requirement—there's a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards put a pretty high standard about what a car has to do to put it on the road—but the new technology in the car, the battery system especially, has been a major focus of safety. We've all heard about lithium-ion batteries causing laptops to catch fire. Of course, the number of times that's happened has been fairly limited, but nonetheless, it's fairly dramatic when it goes. Of course gasoline burns pretty nicely too. You don't have to wait very many days listening to the radio before you hear about a car fire on the freeway someplace or other.

But one of the neat things about building a battery pack out of many, many small cells, as we did, is that the amount of energy in any individual cell is relatively small. And if you design it right, which we did, you can design the battery pack in a way that if one of those cells were to catch fire, even spontaneously, as happened with some of these notebook computers, it won't set the neighbors on fire and you won't have a giant conflagration, as these notebooks demonstrated. That was actually, that's probably a third of our engineering work at this company is to make that battery pack work that way and it took a lot of work to do that and is, of course, the subject of quite a few of our patents.

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