Tesla Model S crashes, erupts in flames in Russia

A Tesla Model S burst into flames on the side of a Russian highway late Saturday evening after colliding with a tow truck.

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The car, driven by a Russian businessman and carrying his two children, struck a tow truck that was tending to a vehicle on the side of the highway near Moscow, according to Russian news outlet Zvezda. Following the crash, the Model S caught fire and then exploded while in slow-moving evening traffic.

The state-owned TV network, citing a law enforcement source, said the Model S was likely in Autopilot mode and couldn’t identify the tow truck that was ahead of it.

This incident isn’t the first to involve the electric-carmaker’s Autopilot system. In March, a 50-year-old man was killed when his Tesla Model 3 collided with a tractor-trailer in Florida. The National Transportation Safety Board said in its report that the driver turned on the Autopilot 10 seconds prior to the crash and that the vehicle did not detect his hands on the steering wheel at the time of impact.

Tesla Model 3 with extensive roof damage photographed postcrash at tow yard. (NTSB)

A Tesla Model X crashed into a barrier on a California highway in March 2018, resulting in the death of its driver. The NTSB said the Autopilot feature was enabled at the time the incident occurred. During the crash, the Tesla’s battery was “breached” and in the aftermath, the vehicle caught fire.

Two of the first reported deadly accidents involving the Autopilot feature occurred in 2016. In May of that year, a 40-year-old man was killed when the Model S he was driving collided with a semi-truck that was making a turn. The roof of the Tesla struck the bottom of the trailer as it passed underneath, then went off the road and hit two fences and a power pole, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

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In January, a 23-year-old died when the Model S they were driving collided with a truck while traveling on a highway in China. Dashcam footage of the incident shows the Tesla appearing to continue at highway speed, without slowing or attempting a maneuver to evade the truck. The Tesla is reportedly believed to have been on Autopilot mode at the time of the accident.

“When it was approaching the road sweeper, the car didn’t put on the brake or avoid it,” a police officer said in a CCTV (China’s government-owned news channel) report, cited by the New York Times. “Instead, it crashed right into it.”

Tesla did not respond to FOX Business' request for comment at the time of publication.