About three weeks ago in Ashburn, Virginia, there was an electric vehicle charging malfunction that started a fire in a garage and caused more than $15,000 in damages.
That was not the only fire sparked by an electric vehicle, WTOP News reported.
In Damascus, Maryland, on April 1, a fire started from an electric car charger in a garage and caused $350,000 in damages.
Four days later in Bethesda, Maryland, a scooter overheated while charging and started a fire in an apartment, WTOP reported.
In and of itself, these are not terribly remarkable events.
The damages are unfortunate, but not catastrophic.
But when looking at the broader picture of the problems tied to electric vehicles, it is worth noting.
Though many like to advertise electric vehicles as flawless, the way of the future and the green energy solution, EVs still have problems — just like any vehicle.
As EVs become more common, the risk of fires associated with these vehicles cannot be overlooked or underplayed.
Do you like electric vehicles?
In France, two electric buses exploded.
There is a particular danger when EVs catch on fire because their lithium-ion batteries are especially flammable, CNBC reported.
“[E]lectric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries burn hotter, faster and require far more water to reach final extinguishment … And the batteries can re-ignite hours or even days after the fire is initially controlled, leaving salvage yards, repair shops and others at risk,” CNBC reported.
How do lithium-ion batteries catch on fire in the first place?
A battery can short circuit, which could happen if the battery cell is punctured or exposed to heat, say during a collision. Then they can combust, Forbes reported.
Lithium-ion batteries can even spontaneously combust if there is silicon expansion or dendrite formation. If that happens, then the battery can produce “a spontaneous fireball explosion that heats to 1300°F in milliseconds.”
In April, for example, a deadly lithium-ion battery fire occurred in a Tesla car crash in Houston, Texas. It took firefighters more than four hours and 30,000 gallons of water to put out the blaze, Forbes reported.
These facts of EVs have to be recognized.
All vehicles have risks and can be deadly. But somehow, since the political messaging around EVs has been all about how they are good for the environment and how they are the way for humans to move forward and stop relying on gas, there has been a real downplaying of the risks still involved.
Politicians, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have continually pushed for government funds to be directed at advancing infrastructure for EVs.
In May of 2021, Cortez even unveiled new legislation to enact the Biden administration’s charging infrastructure goal.
“Actions policy makers take now can help ensure the U.S. leads in the deployment of the vehicles and infrastructure of the future — and that working people and communities see the gains from the clean economy,” said Zoe Lipman, Director of Manufacturing and Advanced Transportation, BlueGreen Alliance at the time of the new legislation.
But there needs to be a recognition of the real risks of EVs — not just a political focus on their advantages.