04.5 EV fires & charging research

Our project focus - EV fires that 

Of 122 electric passenger vehicle traction battery fire incidents studied, over a third went into thermal runaway while connected to AC or DC EV charging, or within an hour of being disconnected from AC or DC EV charging.

In all incidents studied, charging could not be proven as the cause of thermal runaway, but may have pre-empted electric vehicles with:

  1. an existing unknown fault

  2. a cell defect - fault during manufacturing

to go into thermal runaway sooner than expected.

It should also be noted that electric vehicles, by definition, spend significant periods of time connected to energised charging, so the high number of charging-related incidents should not be considered unusual.

However, the number of EV fire incidents while connected to energised charging highlights the need to consider emergency response at charging hubs; on-site hydrants, fire appliance access, pre-incident planning & water run-off.

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35 connected to energised charging

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5 within one hour of charging

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1 due to extension cord
1 improper cable
1 building electrical fault

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16 due to cell defect during manufacturing 

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16 unknown cause

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122 traction battery fires