Fire Mishaps: How To Prevent Your Electric Vehicle From Catching Fire?

Highlights :

  • Various measures can be taken to prevent an electric vehicle from catching fire, such as minimising heat exposure, monitoring battery health, and other behavioural adaptations.

Electric vehicles are slowly on their way to replace ICE vehicles as the main option for mobility. However, to take over the market, electric vehicles must placate the various concerns associated with the technology. While the issues of range anxiety and high cost are getting addressed at an unprecedented pace with more inventions and improvements in performance, a spate of fire incidents cast a shadow on an otherwise promising industry.

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Technical faults and manufacturing defects of batteries can indeed lead them to catch fire. However, the cases are also due to personal negligence and not taking proper precautions. Most EV battery fires occur when the battery is damaged or punctured.

Here are some of the precautions you must take to prevent your electric vehicle from catching fire.

Minimise Exposure to Heat

During summers, the vehicle might get exposed to very high temperatures above 45°C. This can lead to thermal runaways/fires if not managed adequately. At such high temperatures, exothermic reactions get triggered and generate more heat. Furthermore, charging at high temperatures can lead to a gas generation that could cause a cylindrical type cell to vent and a pouch-type cell to swell. Ultimately this may lead electric vehicle to catch fire.

Therefore, it is advisable to avoid parking in direct sunlight or leaving your EV in hot surroundings. When not in use, it must be parked in the garage, or another cool and dry area. Keep the batteries in dry areas with adequate ventilation. Battery cooling systems are also helpful.

Keep Track of Battery Signs

It is not good for battery health when it gets over-charged. Charging the EV battery to its full capacity is best to be avoided. The EV, or the battery for detachable battery vehicles, must be unplugged right before the battery regains its full capacity.

On contrary, Li-ion batteries are also severely affected if they are completely drained before being recharged. You must put the EV on charge before the battery drains out completely. It is advisable to make it a rule to charge between 20 and 80 per cent of battery capacity.

Lithium-ion batteries do not suffer the “memory effect” as badly as other types of rechargeable batteries. Hence, feel free to discharge and recharge many times nearly back to their original charge. Furthermore, the manufacturer’s instructions must be carefully followed to avoid overcharging or damaging batteries.

Avoid Driving Over Sharp Objects

This is as important for EVs as it is for conventional ICE vehicles. In the case of an electric vehicle, a pothole, sharp stone, or any such impact may end up damaging the battery. Side impact or underside puncture poses a great threat. If there is any damage, EV must be taken to a qualified electrician immediately and the battery be checked and, if needed, repaired.

EV Charging Station to Charge Batteries

It is advisable to use a Level 2 charging station as Level 1 chargers (i.e. standard wall outlets) can take longer to charge the electric vehicle and can generate heat, which can contribute to battery fires.

Let the EV Cool Down Before Charging

It is not safe to put on charge the EV battery right after the EV stops running as the lithium-ion cells inside the battery remains very hot at that time. It would be wise to let the system cool down and then plug it in. The detachable batteries must be disconnected from the vehicle and charged separately.

Use Original Equipment

A piece of equipment is specially designed as a proper fit for the particular EV and going for other options might be risky. For instance, Using a local battery (as it is cheaper) might risk damage. Hence, Only the battery designed for the EV must be used. Similarly, only the charging cable that came with the EV must be used to avoid damage to the battery while charging.

The replacement batteries and chargers should match and come from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or an authorized reseller.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.

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