ICE Vehicles 20x More Likely to Burn than EVs

May 19, 2023

Speaking as an ex paramedic that got a lot closer, way too often, to burning vehicles than I ever wanted to be, I’ve heard all the stories about electric vehicle fires, and wanted to do a fact-check.
Still remember some of the lectures we got about all the things on an ICE car that can not only burn, but explode. (you’re driving an Improvised Explosive Device, folks)

People would think more than twice about driving if they knew.

The Driven:

Contrary to common disinformation about electric vehicles, data from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB)  has shown that EVs are 20 times less likely to catch fire than petrol and diesel cars.

The MSB says that during 2022 there were a total of 106 fires in various electrified modes of transport in Sweden, but that 38 of these were in electric scooters and 20 were electric bicycles.

Only 23 fires were reported in electric vehicles in 2022 making up just 0.004% of Sweden’s fleet of 611,000 EVs.

In contrast, over the same period, some 3,400 fires we reported in 2022 from Sweden’s 4.4 million petrol and diesel cars representing 0.08% of the fossil car fleet.

This means that in 2022 a petrol or diesel car in Sweden was around 20 times more likely to catch fire than an electric vehicle.

Furthermore, fires in electric cars are declining. The MSB says the number of fires in electric cars has been around 20 a year over the last three years, although the number of electric cars over that tie has almost doubled. Presumably, this is due to EV makers improving fire suppressing designs in newer models.

So the next time someone starts talking about fire risks associated with EVs, tell them they’re 20 times more likely to have a fire driving a petrol or diesel car!


3 Responses to “ICE Vehicles 20x More Likely to Burn than EVs”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I do wonder if ambient temperature makes a difference in EV battery heat stress. Would an EV be more likely to catch fire in Phoenix than in Stockholm?

  2. According to John Cadogan, the fumes from an EV fire are much worse and people should have a better understanding of them:

    • gmrmt Says:

      Dump batteries that use cobalt since there are alternatives already on the market. If that’s the worst hazard then good.
      Ast to the other gasses there may be a requirement to have hoods over EVs in garages to evacuate gasses with concrete walls between spaces to prevent fire spread. Now that’s a host of new problems but the risks of these fires increase with the number of EVs. There are going to be 20X as many EV’s as sold now before the end of this decade with a 20X increase in the number of EV fires.
      Now there’s been great progress in thermal management and battery design to reduce risk in the past few years and that will continue. Hopefully we’ll see non flammable electrolytes or cell spaces filled with retardants or heat absorbing substances.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: