First Tesla crashes in China

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Tesla doesn’t ride easy in China. The company is getting sued from all sides, has impatient customers smashing windows, only slowly expands its dealer network, competes with the gray guys, and now they got their first car crashed. It happened earlier today in the Chaoyang District in Beijing. A red Model S hit a roadside lamp pole and then a parked bus. The driver and passenger of the Tesla were taken to a local hospital for a check but were not seriously injured. The bus was empty.

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This picture was taken immediately after the crash, bus still on Tesla. The bus was moved backwards later on. This, as it happens, is also the very first Model S we see in Beijing with a license plate. Congrats for that, Tesla!

Witnesses at the scene, quoted by local media, say the driver of the Tesla lost control of the vehicle while he was making a u-turn. The Tesla hit the lamp post at high speed, first up front and then with the right side, and then hit the bus at a relative low speed. The passengers escaped through the front-passenger door.

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The lamp pole.


All airbags were deployed. Right-rear wheel broke off and is gone.

Hours after the accident the Model S was towed away, likely to the new Tesla service center, but it doesn’t seem they can do too much to save this sorry car.  Price of the Model S starts at 648.000 yuan or 104.000 USD for the 60kw. This particular car is an 85 which goes for a steep 734.000 yuan or 121.000 USD.


Glass on the seats. Central screen seems all right.


Grille is off, but not gone.

Thanks to Reader Antoine Chalendard for the tip!

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    • OMG! No problem at all. Just no need for it! It was a side impact. NOT frontal. Side airbags deployed as needed on both sides. Are you one of those guys to critic Tesla on all points? Think before you comment.

  1. Next to last picture appears to show airbags deflated: no doubt to allow emergency crew to remove passengers.

    Unfortunately, no matter how smart the car is, it can only do so much to compensate for the actions of stupid drivers.

    • The airbags that deployed don’t appear to be steering wheel driver airbags. If the steering wheel airbag had deployed, the steering wheel should look different. It appears that only the curtain style airbags deployed.

      • Ah, so you were talking about the steering wheel airbags.

        Steering wheel airbags (and the passenger front airbag) are not supposed to deploy in a side impact (only the side airbags). You can go look up some side impact crash tests if you don’t believe me.

        The airbags are not all wired to go off at once, only if the forces deem it necessary for that airbag to go off. The case where both the steering wheel and side air bags may go off are in a frontal overlap crash (where there’s both lateral and longitudinal forces), which this clearly is not.

        • @ JakeY

          You really should check your facts before you post. You make a fool and liar of yourself.

          The photo of the Tesla shows front end damage, and thus indicates a frontal impact. The type of damage indicates that the car was moving forward at the time of impact.

          The story also says that it hit the front, then the light post and then the bus.

          • I think Jakey is a Tesla fan, employee, or a shareholder. He will say next, the lamp post came and hit the Tesla on the side. Or, the lamp post was at the wrong place. Or say, that at least the passengers die. It proves Tesla a safe car.

            We can’t rule out some vehicle defect at this point. It could be the ‘sudden acceleration’ issue reported by many people.

          • @Paul, JakeY is correct. I have a Tesla and experience with the airbags. The crash had no front impact force so the front airbags did not deploy, The front damage you see is from the plastic piece being deformed from the side and causing snapping in the places attached. You obviously have no experience with a Tesla.

  2. Paul, if you knew anything aboit cars you would know the front of this car did not impact greatly with anything. Tje hood has not deformed at all! The minor damage done the front bumper is from the side impact.
    I find it amusing that witnesses say this accident is from a U-turn. Having done a million u-turns and witnessed many more, I can only conclude the driver is a complete idiot to crash in that manner……. and/or has a huge wallet and no driving experience.
    As for unintended acceleration, this is extremely rare and usually used by people who are embarrassed by their inept driving skills….

  3. Agree w/ Tony that this car definitely did not have a significant frontal impact that would trigger the front airbags to deploy.

  4. Have a closer look at the RH back wheel well.
    Where did the entire rear suspension and axle go?
    This would not be the first time that the entire rear suspension fell off a car.
    Have a look at this one.
    Google “Tesla Model S Totalled In Violent New York Crash”

    Plenty of reports of owner finding loose bolts on suspension components and the whole thing about ready to fall apart.
    mlublin | NOVEMBER 13, 2013
    Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love my P85+, I also own stock in Tesla and believe they are going to change the direction most other auto makers are going.

    That said, I did have an issue on 10/9/13 where my car would pull to the left under acceleration and then back right when I laid off the go pedal. I purchased the car 6/22/13 and it had 4,400 miles on it the day I felt this problem. I am very mechanical having worked on cars my whole life. Before I put the car on my lift, I researched online about the MS pulling under acceleration. After weeding through usual online chatter, I did find posts from a few people who said some suspension bolts had loosened up in their cars and the service center re-torqued and loctited them. When I got home from work I put the car up on the lift and couldn’t believe what I found. The passenger lower ball joint nut was not just loose, it was a few threads away from falling off! (I have pictures, but don’t know how to post on here) I couldn’t believe it, since in the 30+ years I’ve been working on cars, I’ve never seen a ball joint nut come loose. It simply just doesn’t happen. I decided to check all the bolts in all for corners of the car and found the same nut on the drive side to be hand tight (it was loose, but hadn’t spun all the way down yet). I also found a loose bolt on an alignment arm on the driver rear. Had I not noticed this “pulling”, which by the way my wife didn’t, I probably would have had a day before the passenger ball joint came completely out and my passenger wheel would have been parallel to the ground. The potential for loss of life and/or vehicle damage was huge!

    My larger concern than my own car which I fixed, was that Tesla knew about this and didn’t do anything proactive to stop it. Again, it was only internet postings, but to see that other people said they had the same issue is scary. These types of bolts/nuts are never supposed to loosen up in any car and for it to happen to multiple vehicles crazy. I wrote Tesla on 10/10/13 and I received a call the following day from a gentleman from the Long Island City service center, where I originally picked up my car. Omar went over all the details with me, offered to repair my car, and told me he was aware of the importance and would escalate this to the proper people immediately. Unfortunately I have heard nothing since, which seems very un-Tesla like and disappointing.


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