Tesla toughens up the Model S' underbody to prevent battery fires

Tesla Model S on tour

Tesla's Model S may have a good safety record, but even two accident-related battery fires are too many for the perfection-obsessed (and image-conscious) automaker. Elon Musk has revealed that every Model S built from March 6th onward has both aluminum deflector plates and a titanium underbody shield, the combination of which should prevent battery punctures and deflect debris. Any existing owner can get the shields as a free upgrade, and Musk promises that all the extra metal won't hurt performance in a meaningful way -- you'll lose 0.1 percent of range, he says. While the upgrade is unlikely to completely silence EV doubters, it might reassure Model S buyers who'd rather not lose their cars to detritus on the road.

[Image credit: Tesla, Flickr]