One of the major “concerns” critics have with Tesla is the battery pack. They believe that batteries catch fire more quickly or frequently than gasoline — not true. The fact that it’s possible for EV battery packs to catch fire is often used as a scare tactic and a main thesis behind vocal Tesla critics on Twitter. The truth is, though, batteries are much safer than gasoline.
A great example of this was provided the other night when I was making jambalaya. I have a natural gas stove. It usually takes 1 second for the fire to light when I cook. Also, I use Everclear to cook. I often throw a shot of vodka into meals to enhance the flavor. I spilled some of the Everclear onto the burner and suddenly I had dancing flames for a couple of seconds before I put them out. A cooking fire and a vehicle fire are two different animals. But just think for a minute how much easier it is to ignite those flames compared to igniting a battery.
From 2014 through 2016, the U.S. Fire Administration noted that there were an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires in the U.S resulting in $1.1 billion in property losses, 1,300 injuries, and 345 deaths. Highway vehicle fires accounted for 13% of fires responded to by fire departments across the nation.
In the case of this Tesla Model S fire, it happened in August. Iqtidar Ali shared the story from Bjorn Nyland in an article published on Tesla Oracle. Nyland shared photos from Norway that showed an almost completely burnt out Model S.
The vehicle alarm went off around 4:00 in the morning and the owner got a notification on his Tesla mobile app. The fire department later said that there was a possibility that someone broke the car’s window and threw something inside to ignite the seats and interior. When the owner went to find his car, he was greeted by signs of a fire and no car — the fire department had already removed the vehicle from the parking spot.
Most of the Model S was completely burnt, but the battery pack didn’t catch fire. In a comparison video that Ali shared, a gas-powered Mercedes wound up being in much worse condition than the Tesla Model S.
Battery technology, including fire protection, has improved for years. At this point, it seems clear a Tesla is much safer from a fire perspective than a gasoline-powered car.
Fires are downright terrifying. In fact, fires are why I never learned to drive — I had no desire to. When I was nine, my mother’s car blew up. I was in the passenger seat when she started yelling for me to get out and run. As I opened the door, flames suddenly appeared from the hood and licked the windshield. Not even a full minute from getting out of the car passed before it exploded. After that, my mother said we would take the bus.
I never thought I’d be interested in cars or learning how to drive — and I wasn’t until Tesla. The idea that batteries are more deadly than gasoline or oil is, to me, laughable. I mean, yes, they can catch fire, but not as quickly as gasoline or any other flammable liquid.
As with any fire, I’m glad the owner of the car in this story was safe and that he wasn’t inside it when it happened. Also, since the glass was broken in, I think it’s a great thing that Tesla has developed armored glass for the Cybertruck. Perhaps Tesla can use that glass for all of its vehicles.