July 2024

A government spokesperson says “EVs are safe”

Tuesday blog

Don’t believe anything till the government denies it

Following the Luton Airport carbecue, a government spokesperson reassured us that EVs are just as safe as other types of car: “There is no evidence that electric vehicle fires are more likely to occur than petrol or diesel vehicle fires and it remains safe to have them in covered car parks.”

This trustworthy voice of the Net-Zero-obsessed establishment went on to say: “This guidance is part of our commitment to keep fire prevention, fire detection and fire-fighting under review for all vehicles and provides the industry with best practice on how to keep car parks safe.”

So, are EVs just as safe as petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles?

There seem to be conflicting figures about the incidence of fires in the main types of car.

The most commonly used figures come from the USA:

Using data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and government recall information, AutoinsuranceEZ indicated fires by vehicle type:

  • Hybrids reflected the most at 3,475 fires per 100,000 vehicles (3.5%) . This is most likely because hybrids utilize two powertrains.
  • ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles caught fire substantially less often, at 1,530 incidents per 100,000 vehicles (1.5%).
  • EV fires were significantly lower than the others, with 25 fires per 100,000 vehicles (0.2%). So of the approximately two million EVs on U.S. roads, less than two out of a 1,000 will catch fire.

Per AutoinsuranceEZ, ICE vehicles are more than 60 times more likely to catch fire than an EV, while hybrids are more than 130 times more likely to catch fire than an EV. Over the coming months and years, these are the figures our rulers are likely to quote at us to convince us of the brilliance of their plans to move us from cheap, long-lasting (10 to 15 years) ICE cars to ludicrously-expensive and short-life (7 to 10 years) EVs.

There are around 170,000 vehicle fires in the USA each year and there are around 290 million cars, So there is no way that more than 1% of cars – 3.5% of hybrids, 1.5% of petrol cars and 0.2% of EVs – more than 2.9 million are catching fire each year. With just 170,000 vehicle fires each year, that’s just around 0.05% of the USA’s cars. I suspect the figures, which our rulers are likely to use to allay our fears regarding EV safety, are just comparing the number of fires to the number of cars sold in the year. So, beware of politicians and prostitute journalists quoting figures proving EVs are just as safe as, or even safer than, ICE cars.

Moreover, there are other issues polluting the official figures:

  • as the EV car population is likely to be much newer than the overall car population, there is less likelihood of newer cars catching fire
  • owners of ICE cars are more likely to do their own maintenance and small repairs than EV owners increasing the chance of unprofessional repairs leading to fires
  • analysis of car fire statistics show that many are started while owners are carrying out repairs – often by careless handling of flammable materials

And, of course, there is the issue of EV fires being almost impossible to extinguish once your carbecue has got going.

Some more reliable data?

Perhaps we can get some more reliable comparison of relative car fire risks from the London Fire Brigade?

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that in 2019 the London Fire Brigade dealt with 54 electric vehicle fires compared with 1,898 petrol and diesel fires.

Vehicle registration numbers from the Department for Transport (DfT) show there are 50,000-plus plug-in cars licensed in the capital out of a total 4.63 million licensed cars. Looking at the London Fire Brigade data, that would suggest an incident rate of 0.04% for petrol and diesel car fires, while the rate for plug-in vehicle is more than double at 0.1%. Moreover, I imagine the risk level for EVs will increase as the EV population ages and as more EVs get small bumps and scratches which might affect battery safety.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, a top-level £190,000 McLaren hybrid sports car burst into flames last week while being taken for a test drive. The article includes some impressive video and photos of the £190,000 McLaren carbecue:


3 comments to A government spokesperson says “EVs are safe”

  • Carolyn

    Lies, damned lies and statistics. Let not the facts get in the way of the narrative.

  • A Thorpe

    I am reminded of something Solzhenitsyn said about speaking the truth in situations where the truth is unacceptable to the leadership. He said at least don’t lie and it is lies that we being fed in this case.

  • Stillreading

    I’m sure the Government statistics will be a great comfort to the family in St. Austell, Cornwall, reported on the same Daily Mail page, who “lost everything” recently when their EV spontaneously combusted on their driveway after they had gone to bed. By the time someone outside the household realised what was happening, alerted them and called emergency services, disastrous damage had been done to their house as well. They were probably lucky to get out of their home alive. Irrespective of any lies, damned lies and statistics emanating from the net-zero obsessed Government, motor vehicle and homes insurers will undoubtedly take their own actuarially-based views on the risks incurred by having an EV on a property, views which will be reflected in premiums.

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