Hot Zig – Again!

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It isn’t just Teslas that have a built-in flambe feature.

Electric cars made by GM and Ford are getting all fired up, too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it is looking into cases of at least three Chevy Bolts – in this country – that have that auto-immolated, one when it was just sitting (like the Tesla that burned down a garage where it was parked) the other having gotten hot and bothered while tethered to a “fast” (30-45 minute wait) charger.

In the first incident, the Bolt caught fire three times.

The first time, the owner called the firemen, who put out the fire. Well, they thought they had. The flambe resumed a short while later. The firemen returned for a second effort – which they thought had succeeded, again. The crisped carcass was then towed to a Chevy dealership for autopsy.

Where it spontaneously combusted again.

In the second incident, a Bolt began to smoke after its owners left it in the garage to recharge. Firefighters arrived in time to contain the blaze but several nearby homes reportedly had to be evacuated and the car’s owners had to be treated for exposure to toxic fumes from the fire.

Which threatened their lives far more than the WuFlu – and which a Face Diaper offered no protection against. Just as it doesn’t protect from the WuFlu. But Face Diapers and auto-immolating EVs are pushed on the populace regardless.

NHTSA hasn’t yet released details about the third Bolt that burned to a crips and not much is known about the Bolt that melted in the Ukraine – but the problem is well-known because it isn’t specific to the Bolt – or Teslas. It is a general problem with high-voltage electric cars and high-voltage EV “fast” charging.

Gasoline lights on fire if vaporized and exposed to a spark. Batteries can catch fire from thermal runaway – short-circuit overheating caused by a defect off or damage to the battery’s case or internal structure or because of overcharging/too-fast charging. There are supposed to be built-in safeguards as regards the latter, but they’re clearly not entirely safe and as regards the former – it’s inherent.
This inherent risk is magnified by several factors, including deterioration over time of the battery (externally and internally) as well as damage caused by movement. It is one thing to build 1,000 pounds of high voltage/highly reactive battery and place it in a controlled – and stationary – environment. It is another to subject it to pothole jarring, high-speed acceleration/deceleration and other forces that apply strain to its physical and internal structure. And to extreme of heat and cold as well as moisture – the things all cars are subjected to.

Gasoline is inherently safer. The fuel itself and the tank it is stored in.

The risk of a fire is not increased by sloshing it around, or even by denting the tank, which can stand that and more without any meaningful increase in the risk of a fire.

A leak isn’t much of an issue, either . . . unless there is a spark. Which isn’t essential for a electric car’s battery to catch fire. Which is why wrecking an electric car is inherently more dangerous, since all it takes to get things combusting is physical damage to the battery and that’s inherently more likely because electric car battery packs are usually spread out – to spread their weight – around the entire floorpan of the car.

A hit from any angle can cause damage and trigger the flambe.

A gasoline tank is located in one area of the car – usually the are most protected from impact forces, just ahead of the rear axle. It takes a massive impact to rupture the gas tank and even then – again – there won’t be a fire unless there’s a spark.

If, on the other hand, an electric car battery’s case is cracked and the materials within short circuit you’ll have something hot on your hands.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to get out in time.

These fires are also hard to extinguish. A gas fire, put out, stays out. Battery fires spontaneously restart (thermal runaway, again). Some wrecking yards have taken to having a gigantic trash bin large enough to accommodate EVs, so they can burn without burning down everything else.

Several questions arise which of course won’t be answered until EVs are successfully crammed down the American gullet. They include the likely – the justified – higher car and home and business insurance premiums that EV owners will pay in consequence of having what the underwriters style a constructive hazard on the premises.

Another question is whether the rest of us will be forced to pay more for this as well, via generally higher premiums for us, even if we don’t have an EV.

Also of interest is the health aspect. EVs are dangerous – and not just to their owners. How about the people next door? How about the car parked next to one?

Perfectly healthy people are harried for not wearing a Face diaper by people terrified of an asserted risk that isn’t actually there. Ownership of actually dangerous electric cars is not only lauded it is subsidized  . . . mandated.

Which goes to show just how little any of this has to do with “safety” – or health, for that matter.

. . .

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  1. As EPAutos’ Official Unofficial Young People Consultant, I can say with a low degree of certainty based on one Reddit argument that the EV lovers’ latest line is to try to trivialize the battery fires by drawing a false equivalence to a few gasoline-powered cars that have lit up because of filler-neck defects (or, in the case of the Ferrari 458, an exotic adhesive). Never mind that an BEV/PHEV can light up for no reason at all, spews fumes straight out of a science horror movie, and may need to be extinguished multiple times, it’s totally the same thing!

  2. A group of nerds demonstrates a LiPO battery explosion. This was intentional, the charger set up for bulk charging lead acid and no balance wires attached. Shows what happens when they aren’t treated with respect.

    The people buying electric cars today are pretty much the type of person who is going to read the manual cover to cover (to pass the time while waiting for their Tesla to be delivered… or waiting for it to charge). The few people modding their electric cars today are probably electrical engineers and hackers who know what they’re doing, and have a healthy respect for the potential energy stored in the batteries. What’s going to happen when the “average driver” gets into an electric vehicle because it’s what they can buy, not because they have any desire to own one? Will they pay close attention to the manufacturer’s warnings? Will they find some cheap and sketchy charging cable with undersized conductors and continue using it even after the insulation melts from heat? Dragging the equivalent of an electric drier’s power cable across the garage every night is going to add a lot of wear to the conductors over time. Will the sales guy put in any effort to plead with them to use the correctly sized charging system? Will the new owner believe the salesman? How long before homeowner’s insurance rates go up because you have an EV charger in the garage? Will lawsuits and big settlements bring an end to home charging and usher in the worst of both worlds, charging at a designated location and still having to wait an hour? Will anyone remember EV evangelists telling us how wonderful it was to charge at home and never visit a gas station?

    (Borrowing from Judge Napolitano for style, apparently)

  3. It becomes more and more evident that the practical entirety of all actions of the state include nothing whatsoever to actually benefit people. Quite the contrary, to make life as difficult as possible seems to be the intent. While a few chemical manufacturers are poisoning the planet to the point it cannot sustain life, we are told, and expected to ignore that and consider “climate change” to be the most important global threat, and a virus no more dangerous than ordinary influenza to be death incarnate. Both are based on outright lies. While attempting to convince us, and too often successfully doing so, that the state is actually working for our greater good, they seem far more intent on our destruction. Evil, stupid, and psychotic is the state of the state.

    • Yup. So, my question to everyone is: what is the solution to stop all of this madness?

      Some say the solution is to change our culture. Yeah, okay, good luck with that one, I think it’ll be nearly impossible unless you have total control over the TV & schools & news media outlets.

      Any other ideas?

      • Hi Harry,

        For openers, intellectual resistance; don’t agree or pretend to. Second, passive resistance. Third – if it becomes necessary – actual resistance. I am hoping it will not be necessary. But if it does become so, then so be it.

    • For the last 50 + years our rights have been chipped away and governments are making life as difficult as possible. This started with the 1970 laws requiring pollution equipment, drunk driving laws, and seat belt laws. Just a little foot in the door. Pushing pushing pushing till the door is completely open. The oft quoted expression back then was this: “We just want to get drunk drivers off the road.” The final nail in the coffin is the cashless society, where everyone will be trapped in the crooked bank system and the government, NOT YOU will have the say in how “your” money is spent.

  4. Evidently this is the new norm — cars just spontaneously combust — wow this is SOOOO much better than the old cars that just sat around being boring. These new exploding cars must be so great for the environment — heck they’re saving the planet from … something. So sustainable too.

  5. What a prophetic post! This just in:

    Ford is being forced to delay the launch of its plug-in hybrid Ford Escape SUV to 2021 after thousands of similar SUVs in Europe were recalled for catching fire while recharging.

    It’s tough to save the planet when you’re suffering from third degree burns. 🙂

    Ford’s European Kuga model shares parts with the Escape, including the battery and engine. Several fires in Europe have prompted a recall of all 20,500 Kuga models sold there.

    European owners can continue driving their Kugas, but Ford has told them not to plug them into walls. Customers must operate their vehicles in conventional “hybrid” mode without charging them. Ford issued 500-euro gasoline cards to reimburse drivers for the loss of fuel economy.

    It’s almost as if EP Autos had a mole inside Ford, having scooped this announcement a day in advance. Well done! [not referring to flambéed owners, mind you]

  6. Eric,

    If the impact is serious enough, isn’t it possible for the wiring in an ICEV to be damaged? Couldn’t that cause a spark, thus catching any stray gasoline on fire? BTW, gasoline has a flash point of 20-25 deg. F…

  7. leftists have the media by and large and thus their agenda is given the position of the moral high ground. From there it doesn’t matter how many people suffer or die because what they are doing is correct and in their mind since it’s correct if people die to achieve their ends then they die, it’s worth the price to them.

    Of course cronies aren’t much better in that regard. So you take the two and put them together and well they put people infected with COVID19 into nursing homes and are completely unbothered by it because it advances the agenda.

  8. Catch-22

    Newer lithium-iron batteries don’t have the “thermal runaway” problems lithium-cobalt batteries do.

    But lithium-cobalt still has the better energy & power density versus lithium-iron…so you get more range for a given weight from the “zippo” battery packs…

  9. I love these articles, hopefully one day it’ll get through to my gf and she’ll drop her Tesla obsession.

    She likes the “Tech” in them… I mean, there are tons of techy cars out there, so why the rolling crematorium?

      • Im thinking she needs a lux car loaded to the 9’s for her next car.

        I dont see any appeal, its a blank dash with an ipad, no real pizazz to them.

        Any recommendations for a car that fits that kinda bill, Eric? Shes an SUV girl who leases xD

          • “It looks so cool!!!! And futuristic, although you don’t agree with me. But I really want one……it looks luxury, it feels luxury, and we gonna get so much face!!!” -GF

            Also gf: “No, but I like the cars has the potential but low-key, that’s why Tesla is so perfectttt!!!”

            Gotta find out her Budget again, think shes a Benz girl and doesnt know it… Or a bmw girl with some dinan tuning

        • I usually drove a loaner Audi Q (3 or 5, depending on what who was handing out the keys that day) when the A3 TDI was at the shop. It was plenty techy enough for me, and that was before they had the LCD dash.

      • Zane, For a tech gift for your tesla loving GF, why don’t you get her a match,com account and tell her this is her headstart on finding a guy.
        Meanwhile you saved yourself a lifetime of divorce payments and wih the money buy yourself a classic hot rod for your new mancave. You’ll find the right girl who likes classic cars.

    • Hi Zane,

      I’m not sure what’s “tech” about an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Every Makita drill has the same, just scaled down!

    • Not really high tech. Back at the turn of the 19th century they were using batteries to propel cars. Then the IC engine was shown to be better tech with more energy density available. As far as I am concerned a battery is as old tech as it gets in the car industry.

  10. Chemical batteries aren’t the answer for electric cars. There has to be something else. However, nobody is developing that something else.

    Just look how often smart phones blow up because of their batteries. Pretty often in fact.

    To be perfectly honest, batteries in all forms suck.

  11. I have a lot to say about this article, but it’s largely been said already and the people that should be influenced won’t be because of the Dollar to Doing the right thing ratio.

    All these flammable death traps are the direct result of the NHTSA, EPA and a ton of other tentacles all belonging to the same Hydra who don’t care about the general public and are not likely to be affected by their policy chances, which nobody asked for and which have been thrust upon us without any viable option apart from their virtue signaling cohorts.

    The government has officially used our insecurities and tendency to self immolate.

  12. After a notorious Tesla fire in October 2013 that resulted in embarrassing video posts, eLon the eMon wrote that based on statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, a driver is “5 times more likely to experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla.”

    But in March 2020, the NFPA reported that “While hybrid and electric vehicles have become more common, existing data collection systems have not yet adequately captured the frequency of fires involving these specific vehicles.” See page 10, “Electric vehicle fires”:

    Unsurprisingly, eLon the eMon takes the same approach to saaaaaaaaaaaafety statistics as he does to Tesla’s production totals and quarterly earnings. That is, if the numbers don’t show what you want, just make sh!t up.


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