Joe Biden’s plan to convert 50% of the U.S. vehicle fleet from internal combustion engines to electricity by 2050 to fight climate change ignores a serious danger in doing so. Recent events around the world reveal that fire catastrophes from electric vehicles (EVs) are not only possible, but increasingly likely. The fire risk of the lithium-ion batteries that these EVs rely on for power is well documented, as they have been known to spontaneously combust in the most inopportune times and places.
Just this week, General Motors announced a second recall of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs manufactured from 2019 to 2022 model years in order to fix a defect in two of the lithium-ion battery modules that have led to fires. This follows on the heels of a previous recall of 69,000 older vehicles that will replace all five of the battery modules. 0:48 / 48:375 seconds…
The GM announcement is just the latest in a string of recalls by EV manufacturers to attempt to fix defects that can lead to catastrophic fires related to lithium-ion batteries. Last year, Ford was forced to recall 20,000 hybrids and soon thereafter, BMW recalled 26,700 vehicles due to battery defects that could lead to fires.
Internal combustion engine vehicles can also catch fire, but those tend to be during accidents or while driving, not sitting passively in a home or parking garage, as can occur with EVs. In addition, fire crews can extinguish a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle fire, but not so for EVs. EVs are nearly impossible to extinguish with water and need to normally be allowed to just burn out, which may take many hours.
Last year, a California couple awoke to a blaring car alarm and a burning house. The blaze had started in one of the two Tesla S vehicles in their garage and spread to the other. “If we had lived upstairs in this house, we’d be dead,” said Yogi Vindum, a retired mechanical engineer. According to Mr. Vindum, “Gasoline driven cars don’t catch fire in the garage when they’re sitting there. And that’s the difference,” he said.
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