ABC News explores whether crashed e-cars are ticking time bombs

Hurricane season in USA. In September 2022, “Ian”, the deadliest hurricane since 1935, rages through Florida, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Six hours of rain, wind speeds up to almost 250 km/h and over 300 L of precipitation per square meter lead to severe flooding. The depth of flooding is given as 3.70 m. Nearly 150 people lose their lives in this state alone.

wikipedia bild aus florida von überfluteten strassen
Source: Wikipedia

We hear about a danger posed by electrically powered vehicles. The ABC station reports “ticking time bombs” in its news. What is meant by this and how can it be countered?

Storage area for vehicles damaged by the hurricane

Reported from the parking lot of a towing company in Bonita Springs on Florida’s west coast. Vehicles damaged by the floods are stored there. The reporter shows the long rows of closely parked cars and then points out an area where the cars were parked with a large gap.

He relates that e-vehicles damaged by the floods spontaneously caught fire in the aftermath of the hurricane. There is obviously an increased risk of fire if the car has been flooded, especially if it is salt water.

Parkplatz eines Abschnellunternehmens - Fahrzeuge in einer Reihe - im Hintergrund mit weitem Abstand E-Autos
Source: ABC News

One fire department incident commander states firefighting an e-car would require up to 30,000 L, about 10-12x as much water as a conventionally powered vehicle. Above that, firefighting efforts would continue for hours to cool down the fire.

We are aware of this increased need for water, although we do not necessarily have to deal with saltwater-flooded vehicles. The following aspect of the contribution seems interesting to us:

Einsatzleiter der Feuerwehr Florida wird befragt zu Auswirkungen des Sturms IAN auf E-Autos
Source: ABC News

Reflammable above days

Because e-vehicles pose an increased fire risk for days or even weeks, towing companies face special challenges. We hear about a vehicle whose fire had already gone out and yet it reignited.

abc news fahrzeug mit wasser gefuellt
Source: ABC News

We are most impressed by the pictures of the parking lot of the vehicles damaged by the flood. 50 ft, or about 15 m distance is left between the cars to prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding objects in case of ignition. In a country with large areas of land, this is possible. And yet, they continue, even in Florida, many towing companies refuse to service damaged e-cars. Indeed, if we transfer this situation to an urban location, storage becomes a problem.

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In Florida, too, as the share of electric-powered vehicles increases, storing damaged cars will become an increasing challenge. Concepts such as our VLITEX Car Service Set can facilitate the work of rescue teams.

VLITEX Car Service Set for towing services

E-mobility – not more dangerous, just different

The report concludes by saying that e-vehicles are not necessarily more dangerous than conventionally powered ones. However, handling is different, especially in the event of an accident or other damage. Emergency personnel would need to be prepared and trained in the safe use of e-cars.

abc news beitrag hurricane ian e-autos
Source: ABC News

We share this view, according to all the knowledge we have gained in countless conversations with experts and through numerous tests. E-cars are not more dangerous, they are just different. Other challenges require other approaches – and that is what drives us and what we deal with every day.

Here’s how ABC News reports on the fire risk

abc-news Bericht über E-Mobilität und IAN