Why the Big Freak-Out Over That 31-Second Flaming-Tesla Video Is Dumb

Jalopnik Refers to (Ouch) the 'Tesla Model S Death'

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As viral videos go, this 31-second clip packs a lot of firepower or heat or [insert your own pun here]. Posted by YouTube user Aj Gill on Tuesday with the title "Tesla car on fire" and a description reading "tesla car on fire off ramp on 2167 willies t. exit in kent, wa.," the video has gone viral, earning more than 400,000 views as of this writing -- and contributing to a stock dive for electric-car company Tesla.

Yesterday, as the video took off -- Gawker Media's Jalopnik blog helped popularize it -- Tesla stock lost $12.05 in value to close at $180.95. Today, TSLA has continued its descent.

Keep in mind, though, that yesterday morning R.W. Baird analyst Ben Kallo downgraded his rating on Tesla's white-hot (until now) stock to "neutral" from "outperform" -- a move unrelated to the flaming-Tesla video. His target price for TSLA: $187 -- which means that you can now arguably regard TSLA as a bargain, given where it's trading today. (UPDATE: As of 1:21 p.m. ET, TSLA is in the $171-172 range.)

Tesla has issued a statement saying that the Model S in the video "collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle." (Wags on the web who guessed that this incident was due to some sort of spontaneous combustion/malfunction related to the electric car's batteries are, simply, wrong.) Tesla's statement continues:

The car's alert system signaled a problem and instructed the driver to pull over safely, which he did. No one was injured, and the sole occupant had sufficient time to exit the vehicle safely and call the authorities. Subsequently, a fire caused by the substantial damage sustained during the collision was contained to the front of the vehicle thanks to the design and construction of the vehicle and battery pack. All indications are that the fire never entered the interior cabin of the car. It was extinguished on-site by the fire department.

It's worth noting that Jalopnik's spin on this story was, well, overkill, given its headline: "This Is What Fiery Tesla Model S Death Looks Like." Reading that you might think that a passenger died, but no -- Jalopnik was just making a weak joke about the car itself perishing in the fire.

It's also worth nothing, as YouTube user maegaggles writes in the comment section below the clip on the site,

ALL CARS ARE FLAMMABLE. Just in case anyone wasn't aware.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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