On May 22, 2022, a Tesla Model Y spontaneously caught fire. Its occupant panicked and broke the window to get out quickly. We wondered why electric car fires are so impressive and if these fires were more common than those of internal combustion cars.
A new Tesla fire has made the headlines of several media. A situation that can quickly become stressful. The video, below, is all the more impressive as we see the driver breaking the window of his Tesla Model Y on May 22, 2022. He did not know how to open the door manually, a reminder is always interesting.
No need to look far, electric car fires are highly publicized, we see them everywhere. They are often very impressive, and ultra-violent given that lithium-ion batteries are very energy dense. They blaze violently and persistently. The growing popularity of electric cars is forcing firefighters to deal with fires of unprecedented and spectacular violence and tenacity.
It is still difficult to find figures that correctly reveal the reality of things. According to the calculations of Auto Insurance EZ, which compiled the figures from a large study of the National Transportation Safety Board as well as two other statistical databases from two US government agencies, hybrid vehicles (with a fire rate of 3.5%) are about twice as likely to catch fire as internal combustion vehicles (which have a fire rate of 1.5%), and 140 times more than fully electric vehicles (which have a fire rate of 0.025%).
Explained differently, there are 1,530 gasoline and diesel car fires per 100,000 units. For electric cars, this figure amounts to only 25.1a risk of combustion divided by more than 60. Conversely, hybrid cars are 3,474 fires per 100,000 units.
Sudden and stubborn fires
What explains the significant media coverage of electric car fires is not only linked to the very virulent groups of those who hate the electric car. Electric car fires are sudden, stubborn and impressive. Although the data shows that fires electric are not as common as fires gasit does not mean that they are less dangerous.
(…) lithium-ion battery fires in electric cars are much harder to put out
In fact, lithium-ion battery fires in electric cars are much harder to put out than gas fires, and most firefighters don’t know how to put out electric vehicle fires because electric cars are relatively new. Since EV batteries are essentially their own fuel source, they can burn for hours and be extremely difficult for firefighters to cool.
Even when an electric vehicle fire appears to be extinguished, it can reignite, which is why it is so important that firefighters be trained in extinguishing fires in new hybrid and electric vehicles.
Where do the fires come from?
What causes a car to catch fire? Although a fire can be caused by just one thing, such as a battery explosion, it is more likely that a number of factors led to the fire.
In older vehicles, the wiring and batteries begin to deteriorate, putting them at greater risk of catching fire in the event of an accident. Since most EVs are not yet at the advanced age of older ICE vehicles, there is currently no data on whether they will be at greater risk of battery and electrical explosions as they age.
However, electric vehicles pose a risk of battery fires due to overcharging and high temperatures, a risk that gasoline car owners need not worry about.
Some defects are attributable to battery suppliers rather than manufacturers. It is still necessary to identify the source of the fire… Unfortunately, very often, it is difficult to clearly identify the origin of these fires because the battery is located in the floor of the car. When it starts to catch fire… the traces of the origin of the fire have disappeared.
What to do in case of fire
Trying to put out the fire yourself is best avoided. Instead of that, just get out of the vehicle and move away to a safe distance in case of an explosion. Call for help and let the professionals handle it, especially if it’s an electric vehicle fire.
The first thing is to check where the manual opening system is located in the vehicle’s user manual. For Model 3 and Y doors, the command to operate is similar. The trigger is positioned at the level of the window openings, it is then sufficient to lift the plastic block so that the door opens manually.
Be careful all the same, the user manual specifies that this solution should not be used outside of power failures, repeated use damages the entire opening system. The Tesla community has even made a few videos to give advice in case of an emergency.
It is also important to know where the vehicle’s emergency stop system is located. Check the presence of this option on your vehicle, always in the manual. On the Tesla touchscreen, tap “Controls” > “Security” > “Power Off”. Wait at least two minutes without interacting with the vehicle. If you ever started it by mistake… After two minutes, press the brake pedal or open the door to wake up the vehicle.
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