Chevy Volt Battery Pack

Fire safety test of electric car batteries shows better safety than gasoline cars

Car fires in electric cars have been hyped beyond the truth, and a recent study setting electric car battery packs on fire found that while battery pack fires require more water to put out, they're overall safer than fires in gasoline powered cars.

Humans have a common pattern of distrusting the "new thing" just because it's "new". About a year ago news leaked out that a Chevy Volt had caught fire following a crash test in May 2011, and the firestorm of controversy was politically overhyped with ridiculously exaggerated claims, fitting that pattern. Yesterday it was reported that 16 Fisker Karma's flooded in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy caught fire and burned in a storage lot, and it's possible this will reinvigorate distrust patterns. Fortuitously, a group in Germany, DEKRA Automobil GmbH, unveiled results over the weekend of fire safety tests they had conducted with lithium battery packs from electric and hybrid cars.

Their conclusion is that electric and hybrid cars containing lithium-ion batteries are at least as safe as gasoline powered cars. Fire and smoke is less in these cars than gasoline, there are no burning liquids that flow away from the burning car, however extinguishing a lithium-ion battery fire requires either more water or a special additive.

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