Electric vehicles have been growing in popularity as people become more conscious of the environment and gravitate towards companies such as Tesla. Nonetheless, there is a growing concern about the possibility of electric vehicles (EVs) catching on fire. As I watched a Nissan Leaf catch fire just behind my home, nearly burning an entire house, I was prompted to conduct additional research on the subject and write this article in an effort to increase public awareness regarding EV fires and steps being taken to address the issue.
Do electric cars catch fire more often than gas-powered vehicles?
A common misconception about EVs is that they are more prone to catching fire compared to their gas-powered counterpart. The real statistics, on the other hand, show quite the opposite. According to a study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association, EVs have a lower fire rate than gas-powered vehicles. The report concluded that EVs had 3 fires per billion miles driven, while gas vehicles had 4 fires per billion miles driven. Even though EV fires do occur on occasion, the likelihood of one occurring is relatively and comparitvely low.
Electric vehicles and battery-related fires
A serious issues with EVs is the risk of battery fires. EV lithium-ion batteries are highly flammable and contain a high energy density. If the batteries are damaged, overcharged, or overheated, they have a change on catching on fire or even explode. To ensure the safety of EVs and people, manufacturers have taken a number of precautions, including the use of fire-resistant materials to protect the battery and the implementation of more effective cooling systems.
According to a report by Drive Electric Colorado, EV battery fires are usually caused by physical damage to the battery, manufacturing flaws, or poor charging habits. A potential solution would be to implement more effective battery management systems to monitor the voltage and temperature of the battery pack.
Electric vehicle fires vs. gas vehicle fires
EV fires differ from gas vehicle fires in several ways. One important factor is the energy output of the fire. According to a study conducted by the NBC-affiliated news station WCNC, an EV battery fire produces significantly more heat than a gasoline fire. Consequently, putting out an EV fire is more difficult and requires specific tools along with more skilled personnel.
Another consideration is the flammable electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries. When a battery cell shorts out, heat is produced, and this heat can spread to other cells in the battery pack, causing a chain reaction. The heat could cause the flammable electrolyte in the battery to catch on fire and quickly spread.
Safety measures for electric vehicles
To combat the problem of EV fires, automakers have built a number of safety features into their vehicles. They have included improved cooling systems, fire-resistant materials to protect the battery, and battery management systems that monitor the battery pack’s temperature and voltage. Rules have also been established to ensure the safety of EVs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established requirements for EV crashworthiness, occupant protection, and battery safety. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has established safety criteria for EVs that include battery safety, charging safety, and electrical safety.
Electric vehicle fire risks are a legitimate concern, but they have to be understood in context. EVs have a lower rate of fires than gas-powered vehicles, and manufacturers have added a number of safety mechanisms to reduce the risk of flames. As the EV sector expands, it is critical to prevent misinformation against the EV community and keep safety as a top priority in order to reduce the risk of fires.