How Safe is Your Electric Vehicle From Fire?
Debunking Myths and a Closer Look at EV Fire Safety Measures
Electric vehicles (EVs) have often been the subject of misconceptions when it comes to the risk of EV fires. Many people believe that EVs are more prone to catching fire, however we are here to debunk myths and give you the facts regarding EV fires.
EV Fire Statistics
In a recent study conducted by AutoInsuranceEZ, an American insurance company, the frequency of fires in automobiles was examined in 2021. Vehicles with internal combustion engines (your traditional petrol and diesel vehicles) had a significantly higher number of fires compared to fully electric vehicles. The study revealed that petrol and diesel vehicles experienced 1530 fires per 100,000 vehicles, while only 25 out of 100,000 fully electric vehicles caught fire. These findings clearly demonstrate that EVs are actually less likely to catch fire than their petrol counterparts.
These statistics are further supported by the Tesla 2020 Impact Report, which states that there has been one Tesla vehicle fire for every 205 million miles traveled. In comparison, data collected in the US shows that there is one fire for every 19 million miles traveled by ICE vehicles. These facts are further supported by the Australian Building Codes Board, supporting the global experience of EVs to date indicates they have a lower likelihood of being involved in a fire than internal combustion engines.
So, why are EVs less likely to catch fire than ICE vehicles? The technology used in EV batteries is specifically designed to prevent thermal runaway, making them very safe. Additionally, most electric car manufacturers choose to use lithium-ion batteries due to their superior performance and benefits. Unlike gasoline, which ignites immediately upon encountering a spark or flame, lithium-ion batteries require time to reach the necessary heat for ignition. Consequently, they pose a significantly lower risk of causing a fire or explosion.
Moreover, EV technology incorporates additional safety measures to prevent fires. The batteries are surrounded by a cooling shroud filled with liquid coolant, preventing overheating. Even if the coolant fails, EV batteries are arranged in clusters separated by firewalls, limiting damage in case of malfunction. Another measure is electric isolation technology, which cuts off power from EV batteries in the event of a crash, reducing the risk of electrocution and fire. Further, the battery management system does an important job in detecting critical conditions and taking mitigating actions to prevent thermal runaways and short circuits. Additionally, the battery thermal management system ensures that the battery pack remains within the safe temperature range, employing techniques like active air cooling or liquid immersion cooling. It also incorporates vents to release gases generated at higher temperatures, reducing pressure buildup.
While EVs are less prone to fires, it is important to take proper care and precautions to minimise risks. Negligence and failing to follow recommended guidelines can increase the likelihood of a fire. Here are a few tips to ensure the best possible care for your EV:
- Minimise exposure to heat: During hot weather, avoid parking your EV in direct sunlight or in hot surroundings. It’s best to park in a garage or a cool and dry area.
- Keep track of battery signs: Overcharging the battery can be detrimental to its health and reduce the overall battery capacity of some EVs. Avoid charging the battery to its full capacity. Unplug the EV before the battery reaches full capacity. However, lithium-ion batteries should not be completely drained before recharging. Aim to charge between 20% and 80% of the battery capacity.
- Avoid driving over sharp objects: Potholes or sharp stones can damage the battery, posing a significant risk. If any damage occurs, take your EV to a qualified mechanic for immediate inspection and necessary repairs.
By understanding the facts and taking the recommended precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of electric vehicles with peace of mind, knowing that they are designed with safety as a top priority.
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