Electric Vehicles & Fire: Interesting Facts And Safety Rules

Electric Vehicles & Fire Interesting Facts And Safety Rules

Electric vehicles (EVs) are known to be safer than gasoline vehicles. This is majorly due to the use of gasoline fuel. However, there are still some safety rules that one should offer during driving an electric vehicle.

Do Electric Cars Catch Fire More Than Gas-Powered Vehicles?

According to the studies carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board, it is officially proved that EVs indeed are less prone to explosions when compared to Gas-Powered vehicles.

Some studies published that per 100,000 EV cars sold only 26 of them on average caught fire. Whereas these figures were much higher in the case of Gas-powered vehicles and even more in case of the Hybrid cars.

If we talk about Hybrid cars, which are cars with an internal combustion engine coupled up with an electric motor. On the recent reports and studies carried out over the recent years, it has become safe to state that Hybrid cars indeed have the most fires per 100,000 vehicles. The numbers for the Hybrid car were as high as 3475 units.  

On the other hand, as the name suggests, Gas-Powered vehicles are carrying a tank filled with highly inflammable liquid which has a higher chance of catching fires compared to lithium-ion batteries in case of the electric vehicles.

Although this doesn’t imply that every other gas-powered vehicle tends to catch fire with the slightest discomfort to the system, however, are chances are high compared to the EVs. 

How Much of a Fire Risk are Electric Vehicles? 

There are numerous incidents of catching fire on electric vehicles. Some of them caused due to accidents while some were caused due to overcharge of excess hikes in temperature.

As mentioned earlier, all the potential reasons that can lead to EV explosion are discussed in detail: 7 Main Reasons Why Electric Vehicles Randomly Explode or Catch Fire?

If taking an EV with zero manufacturing defaults, into consideration then it’s solely the responsibility of the owner to maintain the vehicle. EVs with careless owners especially in a hot and humid climate are more prone to such explosions as seen from the recent case studies.

With the rise in the market demand for Electronic Vehicles, ignoring the rising cost of Lithium-ion batteries over the past few months is quite remarkable. However, the rising cases of EV explosions amidst these rising brand values can prove to be a major setback to the EV manufacturing companies.

Why do Defective Batteries Cause Car Fires?

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common reason is the defective batteries that cause fires. These defective batteries often heat up and catch fire when used in electronic devices, such as cars.

There are two types of batteries i.e., lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are much more powerful as compared to lead ion batteries and are used in EVs. Just like any other battery, it contains an anode and a cathode section of the battery which is gently connected by a separator that allows the transfer of the ion between the two electrodes.

These separators tend to withstand some compression during the charging because batteries tend to expand when getting charged.

By any means, if overcharge or overcurrent occurs then the comparatively larger compression on the separators might cause it to break leading to an explosion. Conditions are worsened when there are manufacturing defects in the separators.

In any manufacturing defect, these operators might cause explosions due to ion imbalances. Extra care is taken in the manufacture of these separators to ensure that they are long-lasting and efficient for the proper operation of the EV batteries in the long run.

Due to the vast market demand and regular technological advancements, thinner separators are being used in the newest models.

How you can Minimize the Risk of EV Fires?

Incidents of EVs catching fires are indeed overly exaggerated. Mentioned below are some of the tips that can be followed to minimize the risk of EV fires:-

1. Know More About Your Car

The owners should have proper knowledge about their vehicles. Starting from

  • how do those vehicles work? (even on a grass-root level)
  • type and the functioning of the batteries used in them.
  • measures to keep the vehicles safe.

are some of the basic fields of knowledge that the owners are supposed to have.

2. Read Car Manual And Maintenance Manual Thoroughly

Every EV comes with pairs of instruction documents which are essential for every owner to go through. Some of the pints in such instruction pallets are:

  • Going for regular technical; check-ups
  • Nott exaggerates the limits of the vehicle
  • Parking car in a cool and dark place, especially in warmer climates.

3. Report Should be Registered

In case, someone’s vehicle catches fire, they should make immediate reports to the respective companies so that company can monitor any other cases related to yours that help them to improve the design and safety of cars.

What should I do if my EV Catches Fire?

EVs are indeed less prone to catching fires however, mentioned below are the few things that the rider can do in case the electric catches fire:

1. Stop the Car Immediately

Firstly, you should immediately stop the car and turn off the car engine. This reduces the spreading of fire and in some cases diminishes the fire.

2. Evacuate the Car Right away

The driver should make sure to evacuate the car. In doing so, each passenger should evacuate and stands at a safe distance from the car. If possible grab the fire extinguisher from the car, usually in the front.

3. Don’t Try to Extinguish These Flames

Smokes from batteries, car engine, underneath the car frame, and the tire should be left to extinguish on their own or should be done by professionals. At no cost, a person should try to extinguish these types of fumes and fires.

If the fumes turn to flames, it is better to stand a safe distance of at least 50 to 100 meters. You should also signal other cars nearby for safety measures.

4. Call Authorities

Lastly, make sure to contact the car service centers and the respective insurance providers about the fire. This might help the car’s smooth servicing once the fire has been successfully put off.

Can Electric Cars Catch Fire While Charging? How Safe is Charging? 

Yes, electric cars can catch fire while charging. Electric fires are all about their lithium-ion batteries. As mentioned earlier these batteries are highly sensitive to high temperatures and compression.

A. Compression and Degradation of Separator

These batteries have a thin separator between the anode and the cathode material that initiate the transfer of ions from one electrode to another.

When charging, sudden overcurrent or overcharging can put additional strain on these separators. And with prolonged use and compression, these separators may degrade resulting in a charge imbalance.

B. Temperature Variables

Lithium-ion batteries are also sensitive to temperature. Hence during hot weather, it is instructed to park your EVs under the shades. A sudden temperature hike might cause the batteries to catch fire which might lead to explosions. 

EVs Have an Extremely Low Chance of Catching Fire but Hybrids Are Much Riskier. Why?

Hybrid cars have an internal combustion engine and an electrical motor. It is a fusion of the traditional fuel-based car and the modern electric vehicles. Combustion cars are very sensitive to sparks because of liquid fuel tanks that carry highly flammable fuel. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, are prone to fires when lithium-ion batteries get damaged.

Based on recent reports and studies conducted in recent years, one can state that Hybrid cars indeed have the most fires per 100,000 vehicles. The numbers were as high as 3475 units.  

Firing in a Hybrid car is more worse than combustion or electric cars because of the fuel tank and li-ion batteries. Once batteries catch fire it is nearly impossible to put them off. Hence, to prevent them it is better to follow the safety measure or take extra care of your car model.

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