Persistent prejudice surrounds electric cars, with many believing that they are prone to catching fire. However, The Guardian newspaper conducted research that revealed surprising figures. Despite being quick to blame electric cars for fires in parking areas, social media rumors and professional journalism do not always accurately report the true cause of these fires. For instance, the Freemantle Highway container ship fire in July 2023 and a major fire at London’s Luton Airport parking garage were initially attributed to electric cars, but investigations revealed that conventional combustion engine vehicles were actually the culprits.
The stigma against electric cars leading to mass-purchase prejudice seems to stem from the perception that electric car fires are more widespread and receive more attention on social media due to existing biases. While it is true that electric car fires can be more intense and challenging to extinguish, experts argue that there is no solid evidence to support the claim that electric cars are more fire-prone than cars with conventional engines.
In countries with a high percentage of electric cars, such as Norway, the number of electric car fires is significantly lower compared to petrol and diesel car fires. The Swedish National Safety Authority and the Australian organization EV Fire Safe have also found that electric vehicles are much less likely to catch fire compared to their petrol or diesel counterparts. However, it is important to note that fires in electric vehicles can be more difficult to combat, requiring additional training and equipment for firefighters.
While the negative reputation surrounding electric cars may be influenced by incidents involving e-bikes and electric scooters, which also use lithium-ion batteries, experts stress that the risk of fire in an electric car is significantly smaller than in a petrol car. Despite this, there are still concerns about the safety of lithium-ion batteries in electric two-wheelers due to potential issues with product quality and improper charging practices.
In summary, data and research suggest that the risk of fire in an electric car is significantly lower than in a petrol car, debunking the persistent prejudice that electric cars are prone to catching fire.