Underbody (Battery) Shield Kit Installed - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Underbody (Battery) Shield Kit Installed

May 27, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

It's coming up on two months since Tesla rolled out their mechanical response to the pair of weird debris-caused battery fires that occurred last year. The situation didn't seem dire, so we chose not to rush out to be the first on our block to have the new Underbody Shield Kit installed on our 2013 Tesla Model S. Better to wait until the initial stampede subsided, until the pipeline had plenty of parts in it.

We finally took it in last week. Well, actually, the concierge came to us and picked it up. That's the advantage of being three miles from a Tesla Service Center.

I hoisted the car up on our Rotary lift and removed the plastic underbody soon after it came back so I could see what they'd done. The shot above shows the new pieces.

2013 Tesla Model S

There are three main parts: a forward-mounted Skid Bar (green), a stamped titanium Bash Plate (black) and an extruded aluminum Bash Plate (yellow).

The Skid Bar is there to contact the item well forward of the leading edge of the battery to get it tumbling and encourage it to "pike upwards" before it gets to the battery rather than into the battery. This sacrificial part is hollow so that it will deform instead of the subframe to which it's attached.

The two bash plates are built to conceal, protect and bridge over the lower edge of the battery box, the zone where the two debris-strike incidents did their damage. If the object isn't deformable they're designed to ramp over it.

Elon Musk included a couple of videos of these pieces in action in his blog post on the subject. One of them shows an encounter with a three-pronged trailer hitch that mimics one of the fire incidents.

2013 Tesla Model S

In case you were wondering, here's a "before" shot that shows what our car looked like before the parts were added.

2013 Tesla Model S

The cross-section of the extruded aluminum Bash Plate conforms to the contours above and provides a smooth ramp-like transition below. It slightly overlaps its titanium counterpart, which is mostly hidden when the plastic underbody cover is installed.

The cover itself has had a couple of inches trimmed off of its rear edge (green) to make room for the new pieces.

It took less than a day for the Tesla Service Center to install the Underbody Shield kit and look after a couple of other items we brought to their attention. We'll cover what happened with the rest in an upcoming installment.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 22,175 miles

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