Mainstream media outlets reporting nearly every day about BMW i3, or most popularly, Tesla electric vehicles catching fire. But news has arrived from Canada that a Hyundai Kona has exploded sitting idle in a home garage, and the explosion blew the garage door and parts of the roof of the garage, adjacent to the suburban house. Reportedly, no one was harmed in the explosion.
Reports say that owner Piero Cosentino bought his Hyundai Kona this past March, and on July 26, the vehicle was parked in the garage, unplugged from the charging point. Suddenly he heard an explosion and black smoke coming from his garage. The explosion propelled his garage door to the other side of the street and part of the garage roof collapsed. A total of 30 firefighters were required to put out the fire and the Fire Department have confirmed that the Hyundai Kona was responsible for the explosion.
Currently, the root cause of the explosion is unknown and the manufacturer is currently investigating. The official reason for the cause for the explosion will be confirmed soon. However, all these incidents can lead people to believe that electric vehicles are prone to exploding and are therefore unsafe. You might be terrified of news reports like this if you own an electric car yourself, or you are planning to buy one and that is perfectly understandable.
But looking at the past, over the last century, in fact, countless internal combustion engine-powered vehicles have caught fire. On the streets of India, numerous reports of cars which run on CNG have also caught fire. There have also been reports of mobile phones and other devices exploding yet nearly everyone is glued to at least one all the time. Because there is usually more to it than meets the eye.
What causes electric car fires?
If you look at the trend, most of the Tesla models have been reported to have caught fire, were involved in a crash. But there have been some cases where parked cars have also combusted. Audi recalled their E-Tron electric SUV for a potential fire risk globally recently. Usually, the reason for these fires is contributed to leakages in the battery packs. If the battery pack is not sealed properly or gets punctured, saltwater from the moisture in the air can seep and generate a reaction with the lithium-ion elements in the battery cells, which lead to fires.
What should you do?
While we await confirmation of the reason for the Kona to have exploded, the fire from the lithium-ion batteries is difficult to douse. In the event of an electric car fire, using water will only make matters worse as the water will again react with the battery elements. Think back to elementary teachings from school, for electrical fires, use soil or sand to suppress the flames if you must until the firefighters arrive. Most firefighters these days are equipped to handle electrical fires as they use foam or powder-based fire extinguishing materials.
Are electric vehicles inherently unsafe?
That simple answer is no. These are all one-off incidents which are either freak or just plain build quality issues in most cases. So many electric vehicles catching being reported is mostly due to the technology is currently under the spotlight globally which is why every single electric car fire is being reported. There are nearly just as many ICE cars catching fire, yet not much is reported.
Electric cars have been in production for a very long time. The Nissan Leaf has been in series production since 2010 and is the most popular EV in the world with more than 400,000 units sold around the world till date. Battery technology is improving every day and so are the production of electric cars and so are battery management and cooling systems. So be rest assured, it is highly unlikely that your electric vehicle will spontaneously combust for no reason.