Electric cars have been increasing in popularity over the last while due to their environmental footprint and long-term cost-effectiveness. However, there have recently been reports that these cars might be more dangerous than we first thought. After hearing about some incidents on the news, you might be wondering, can electric cars explode?
Like other motor vehicles, electric cars can explode or catch fire in extreme cases. Some of the reasons an electric vehicle could catch fire or explode are overcharging, extreme heat, or a collision. There are also cases where the batteries may explode if improperly disassembled.
Though electric cars can explode, there are a lot of safety measures put in place to attempt to lower this possibility. There are also claims that electric vehicles are not more prone to fire or explosion than combustible fuel vehicles. While it is easy to argue that electric cars do not commonly explode, I will be discussing the factors to consider below.
How Likely is an Electric Car to Explode?
As stated above, electric cars can explode or catch fire in some instances. The most common reasons electric vehicles explode or catch fire are motor accidents that damage the battery cells, overcharged batteries, extreme heat, or improper battery disassembly.
Research shows that even in incredibly severe accidents with electric cars like those manufactured by Tesla, there is a scarce chance of the vehicle exploding. Instead, lithium-ion batteries are more likely to catch fire if their cells are damaged.
Fires can be problematic as these batteries are hard to extinguish and can burn for extended periods.
In the few cases I have found about exploding electric cars, it is usually a battery overcharged or overheating with a mixture of water that causes the explosion.
When mixed with water, lithium-ion releases an exceptionally combustible gas. If the battery ignites while that gas is present, there is the possibility of the car exploding.
The batteries used in electric cars can also explode if there is a breach of the cells that causes safety features to fail in an attempt to cool down an overheating battery.
Breached cells are one of the main reasons for electric car fires, and when unexpecting citizens try to extinguish a fire from an electric car, that is almost sure to cause an explosion in turn.
How Often Do Electric Cars Explode Compared to Other Vehicles?
According to the results of a study in 2021 by AutoinsuranceEZ there has been a rough estimate of 25 electric car fires for every 100k electric cars sold.
Since electric vehicles are still gaining popularity, the total number of electric car fires is relatively low compared to combustion engine vehicles that have been in use for much longer.
However, since electric cars are at the moment still considered a rare type of car to own, and since they cost quite a lot of money, these cases are sensationalized much more often to the public.
The media knows that electric cars are a popular topic and will make more money if they report on electric cars catching fire or exploding.
There is little chance that you have not heard about or seen one of the more recent electric car explosions or fires, and though it is terrible, these cases receive a lot of media, making them seem more commonplace.
It is essential to remember that, for the most part, electric car explosions happen when the battery of the car has caught fire and someone is trying to put it out.
The fires caused by these batteries can take a long time to extinguish, and it is possible to cause an explosion. There have been recent attempts to help fire departments with training to prevent electric car explosions.
Are Electric Cars More Likely to Explode?
According to the same study from 2021 used above, there is a much greater chance of both gas and hybrid cars catching fire than there is of electric vehicles having this result. The following are the car fire statistics of the three types of vehicles:
- Hybrid Cars: 3474 car fires per 100k cars sold
- Gas Cars: 1529 car fires per 100k cars sold
- Electric Cars: 25 car fires per 100k cars sold
As seen above, the chance of an electric car catching fire is much less likely than either of the other two types of vehicles.
Since standard gas cars have been around for the longest time, this car type has by far the most incidents of fires since we started using them. However, as a newer car, the hybrid type has a significantly higher average of fires per 100k cars sold.
After looking at the studies done, it is clear that electric cars boast the lowest likelihood of catching fire and therefore have a considerably lower chance of exploding.
If you are afraid of buying a vehicle that is likely to catch fire or explode, the studies show that hybrid cars are more likely to explode and, therefore, the type of car to avoid if you worry about an explosion.
Reasons Why Electric Cars Can Catch Fire or Explode
Though I have given some rough reasons why electric cars can explode while not having any gas in them, there are many more in-depth explanations. Below is a list of reasons why an electric car could explode.
- Overcharged Battery – Overcharged batteries in electric cars go hand in hand with most of the other reasons these batteries might catch fire or explode. One of the most commonly associated terms for overcharging is extreme heat.
Though most electric cars have systems allowing them to switch off the charging capabilities to avoid overcharging automatically, there have been instances where these safety measures have been faulty. When these systems fail and the battery is allowed to overcharge, a lot of heat builds up and damages the battery components.
Electric car batteries use different cells that are separated to keep them from reacting with one another. When overcharging takes place sometimes, these separations get damaged, and that causes the batteries to react and create extreme heat, and a lot of energy gets released, which causes the battery to explode or catch fire.
- Electric Car Accidents – As explained above, separators keep the different battery cells of an electric car from reacting with one another. When damage is inflicted to the partitions in an accident or the cells are damaged enough, the batteries react to create an explosion or a fire caused by unregulated energy expulsion.
As with other vehicles, electric cars do have the possibility of exploding or catching fire. However, electric vehicles are still among the safest types of transportation on the market, and gas or hybrid cars are much more prone to fire or explosions.
If the idea of an exploding electric car is what is keeping you from buying one, you can rest assured knowing that you would likely be much safer using an electric car compared to a hybrid.
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