The evolution of sustainable mobility is raising some questions regarding the safety of electric cars. In the event that a fire breaks out in an electric car, it is imperative to know how to put it out.

  • Electric and hybrid car fire risk
  • What to know and do if an electric car catches fire
  • The differences with heat engines
  • What the automotive manufacturers are doing

The first aspect we want to affirm is that electric cars do not burn more than thermal cars. Within the world of rescuers, the ability to put out the fire of an electric or hybrid car is an increasingly required skill. This expertise, however, can clearly be passed on to anyone who owns an electric or hybrid car.

Electric and hybrid car fire risk

As we said before, it is not true that electric cars burn more than a thermal car. All cars, in fact, carry out crash tests, in the pre-marketing approval phase.

In the design phase, tests are carried out to see if the batteries are safe enough, even in cases of very dangerous impacts. If the lithium-ion battery of an electric vehicle begins to burn internally, however, the intervention could be much more challenging.

The occupants of the vehicle must be secured immediately as quickly as possible. Rescuers will try to disconnect the high-voltage battery from the car, hoping that the fire is not already inside the battery. In fact, cooling the burning battery externally does not help slow down the internal flames. Only a lot of water applied inside the battery can have an effective effect.

What to know and do if an electric car catches fire

Returning to the concrete, let's try to understand what to know and how to behave.

A lithium-ion battery could ignite for mechanical reasons such as damage or thermal aspects, such as from the flames of a raging fire.

However, it is not said that the electric battery necessarily goes into a fire, as it could very well not catch fire. The constitution of the battery provides for a series of modules, linked to each other, which would therefore help a widespread spread of the fire.

Depending on the type of color of the smoke coming out of the car, it is also possible to understand if the lithium battery is on fire internally. In case there is an alternation of gray and black color, the indicator is quite clear.

After having brought all the people in the car to safety, the advice is to get away as soon as possible. Toxic fumes, as well as obviously the heat and risk of an airbag bursting, can be very dangerous.

Once the flames have been put out, the car should also be placed inside a tub of water, in order to prevent the flames from re-activating in the battery.

The differences with heat engines

As we have seen, there are several problems, which did not exist in the case of thermal engines.

With fuels, in fact, the biggest problems were in the event of a vehicle impact, in particular a damage to the tank . If the fuel pump continues to work, even in the case of broken pipes, various problems could arise.

The technology has subsequently remedied this, introducing a whole series of safety systems, which prevented the continuous work of the pump, eliminating dangerous problems.

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However, electric batteries still have the problem of maintaining the correct temperature, that is, they must not be heated. The development of sustainable mobility is leading more and more car manufacturers to create fast forms of charging.

Beware, however, that the excessive stress of electric batteries in the fast charging phase could lead to overheating of the battery, and therefore problems of a possible fire.

Compared to traditional thermal cars, in the event that there is a collision between electric cars, the firefighters currently do not have adequate and widespread technical equipment to combat fire problems. There are obviously several videos on the net where the Fire Brigade works, for hours and hours, in order to turn off a car. Alternatively, they let it burn, trying to maintain an adequate temperature and not create explosions.

What the automotive manufacturers are doing

As this is a relatively new technology, a collaboration between the different car manufacturers is obviously necessary, as well as with law enforcement agencies.

The risk is clearly huge, and it is not just about electric cars. We remember now that hybrid cars are a very large slice of the market. In the United States, there is extensive discussion about this among several national road safety institutes, which have required manufacturers to release complete cell documentation.

In this way, all the different safety bodies, such as firefighters in the event of an electric car fire, can be optimally trained.

There are several videos of electric cars burning on YouTube, and this has caused a great deal of dismay to people interested in buying an electric car. But be careful, as this technology is always relatively new, much still needs to be done by the various car manufacturers.

Let us always remember that a progressive increase in safety levels will certainly take place in every single area and in every single sector. We therefore expect with interest an important development of safety standards, also on this aspect, in order to have sustainable mobility that is as 100% safe as possible.

credit photo FREEPIK