Tesla Model 3 Becomes Family's Unexpected Beacon of Hope Amid Australian Wildfires


A Tesla Model 3 became a family’s beacon of hope during a vacation interrupted by Australia’s rampant wildfires. Tesla SR+ Model 3 owner Garry Thorpe shared his experience with his all-electric sedan via Facebook. His account of events with his Standard Range Plus Model 3 gave people an idea of how useful Tesla’s vehicles could be during a disaster like a wildfire.

In his Facebook post, Thorpe describes his trip to the family get-together, reported the Driven. He drove his Model 3 4.5 hours or 375 kms to meet with the rest of his family, starting with a 90 percent charge. He topped up on the way for 12 minutes and arrived at his destination with a 20 percent charge left. Thorpe notes that he drove with Autopilot engaged for about 80 percent of the trip. 

Tesla vs. Wildfire Smoke

So, Thorpe’s Model 3 was able to get him to the holiday house with ease. The all-electric sedan's real mettle was tested when Thorpe went with his extended family—10 grandchildren and 8 adults—to Batehaven, which is an open area close to a beach.

A wildfire encroached closer and closer to Batehaven, where Thorpe’s family had decided to spend the day. Firefighters did their utmost best to tame the flames, but the wind shifted, and smoke started drifting towards Thorpe’s family. They took shelter in their cars. 

Thorpe and presumably, some of his family members took shelter in his Model 3 for several hours with the AC turned on recycle. He shared that almost no smoke entered his all-electric sedan and that the car’s battery was still charged at 80 percent when he drove away from the area.

The fact that the smoke hardly entered the Model 3 when a wildfire was nearby is notable. Wildfire smoke can be as dangerous as the flames come from harmful particles and chemicals it could release into the air. 

For instance, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real concern for health experts when patients have been exposed to wildfire smoke and fumes. “If you’re close to the fire, you’ll be exposed to carbon monoxide, which poisons your red blood cells and interferes with oxygen update,” Dr. Brian Christman from the American Lung Association explained in an AccuWeather report.

Power Outage

Power was a real concern for everyone during the wildfire. Luckily, Thorpe’s SR+ Model 3 was able to last for three days, even when he took short trips for supplies. He was even able to drive to the closest charging station.

Thorpe's Tesla Model 3 proved even more useful in the days following his family’s close encounter with a wildfire. After the visit to Batehaven, the family returned to their holiday home, but all communication and power were down. For their safety, they decided to evacuate at the Catalina Club, where there was also no food or power. 

Thorpe was able to take short trips for supplies with his Model 3. During his supply trips, he would look for communication resources and try to find some petrol for a car one of his extended family members drove. 

Thorpe’s son tried to find petrol for his car, too. He lined up at least three times at stations for gasoline, but they always ran out before he reached the front of the line. 

By day 3, the power was still out, and the Tesla Model 3 was still 50 percent charged. He found out that there was power in Bateman’s Bay and drove there to charge up to 80 percent. By afternoon, the power was back on, and Thorpe scheduled his Model 3 to charge up to 100 percent at 7 am. He made it home on day 4 with a 25 percent charge.

Thorpe’s Insights

“Tesla was brilliant. In a disaster, both power and petrol are rapidly unavailable. When power is restored, fuel is hard to come by. My experience was that I could get a 'full tank' before the crisis arrived, and as soon as the power was back on, could get a "full tank" easier than petrol. The car AC was brilliant, you can run it for hours with hardly any power drain,” the Model 3 owner wrote. 

Tesla’s vehicles are often hailed has cool, fun, or an industry-disruptor, but most importantly, they are functional and efficient, as can be concluded from Thorpe’s account with his Model 3. Tesla’s affordable sedan seemed to be invaluable during Thorpe’s encounter with Australia’s wildfires, and it didn’t even have one of the most useful features the company provides for such situations. 

The Tesla Model S and X would have been even more useful during a wildfire because of Elon Musk’s Bioweapon Defense Mode. The hospital-grade HEPA filters built into Tesla’s premium sedan and SUV would have made sure that Thorpe’s family was breathing clean air while inside the vehicles. 

It seems that Tesla’s cars wouldn’t be the only valuable products during a disaster like a wildfire either. Thorpe had to drive a certain distance to charge his Model 3 because there was no power in the family holiday home. If Solarglass roofs or even just Tesla’s Powerwalls were installed in the house, he could have charged right there. 

It’s situations like Thorpe’s encounter with wildfires that reveal the dire circumstances humanity is actually in at the moment. The way Thorpe’s Model 3 was useful to him during the situation hints at the type of products people need given the environmental climate on Earth.

Featured ImageCredit: Garry Thorpe/Facebook
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About the Author

Claribelle Deveza

Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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