Are Electric Vehicles More Dangerous Than Petrol Cars?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained popularity as a greener alternative to traditional petrol cars. However, a motors expert has recently shed light on the potential dangers associated with EV ownership. Chris Keall, writing for the New Zealand Herald, discussed several risks that EV drivers should be aware of.
One significant danger highlighted by Chris is the risk of EV fires. While it is true that EVs are less likely to catch fire than petrol cars due to the absence of flammable fuels, when EV fires do occur, they can be far more severe and challenging to extinguish. According to data from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, it can take more than 10 times as much water to put out an EV fire compared to a fire in a petrol or diesel car. The significant amount of water required is estimated to be around 25,000 to 50,000 liters for EVs, compared to 2,000 to 4,000 liters for traditional vehicles.
One of the main factors contributing to the severity of EV fires is the phenomenon called “thermal runaway.” This occurs when a single part of the battery malfunctions, triggering a chain reaction that leads to a widespread fire. The intensity of these fires can be so high that they may reignite even several days after the initial incident, necessitating more time and resources to control them.
The use of lithium in EV batteries is another safety concern. Lithium is highly reactive and can ignite or explode upon contact with water. This means that any leaks in the battery pack or bodywork that allow moisture into the electrical system can potentially lead to fires. Recent recalls by Porsche and Audi highlight the seriousness of this issue. While no fires have been reported, the companies have urged customers to bring their EVs in for inspection, prioritizing safety precautions.
These concerns regarding EV safety have been supported by recent incidents. Footage from Australia captured a Tesla vehicle exploding into a fireball on a motorway, while a faulty EV battery was reportedly responsible for a fire at Sydney Airport that destroyed five cars. Additionally, a suspected EV fire on a cargo ship resulted in the destruction of 2,700 cars.
While EVs offer numerous environmental benefits, it is crucial for owners and potential buyers to be aware of the potential risks associated with these vehicles. Manufacturers and regulatory bodies should continue to prioritize safety and address these concerns to ensure that the transition to electric mobility is as safe as possible.

– New Zealand Herald
– Fire and Emergency New Zealand