The company previously sent out a software update to the Model S that raised the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds, but it’s hard to shake the image of flaming Teslas without taking more concrete steps. Thus, the new titanium plate. Musk claims this makes the chances of a catastrophic puncture of the battery essentially zero. Additionally, all current Tesla owners will have a shield installed free of charge on their next service visit.
The shield is actually made up of three parts. Toward the front is a hollow aluminum bar that will deflect many objects. Next comes the titanium sheet that prevents objects from being thrust upward into the body of the car. Finally, a solid piece of aluminum mounted at a shallow angle deflects any remaining debris.
The company tested the new system extensively and filmed it with high-speed cameras, just in case you didn’t want to take Musk’s word on it. The GIFs posted by Tesla certainly get the point across — the underbody shield makes quick work of chunks of concrete, a steel alternator, and a trailer hitch.
Even if a battery fire does start in a Tesla, the company is fond of pointing out its special ceramic firewall prevents the passenger compartment from being burned. Installing an impenetrable titanium shield on the bottom of the car is probably better for peace of mind, though.