EV not to blame for ship fire says report

EV not to blame for ship fire says report

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

A preliminary investigation into the recent ship fire has shown that electric vehicle batteries were not to blame despite media reports.

The Freemantle Highway was carrying 3,784 new cars when it caught fire earlier this month off the coast of the Netherlands. An employee of the ship owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, suggested one of the 498 EVs on board might be the cause, setting off a barrage of media reports on the dangers of EVs.

“This incident serves as a critical reflection point,” said Julian Skidmore, Senior Firmware Engineer at electric vehicle charging consultancy Versinetic, “A significant portion of the UK population may be operating under the misconception that EVs are inherently fire-prone. Such misinformation, or the propensity to amplify it, undoubtedly hampers the transition to electric vehicles. More broadly, it poses a challenge to our collective decarbonisation efforts.”

However a preliminary investigation by salvage firm Royal Boskalis Westminster showed that 900 to 1000 vehicles, including the EVs, were still I good condition.

“In reality, despite recent publicity around EV fires, combustion cars are inherently more fire-prone than electric cars. Secondly, although EV batteries are surprisingly resilient to flooding, and are designed to meet regulations preventing fires from short-circuits due to damage and impacts, end-of-life cells after thousands of recharge cycles may occasionally short-circuit. Thirdly, electric cars can burn more intensely, but burn less quickly and don’t explode. Therefore, when there’s an electric car fire, there is far more time to get out of the vehicle,” said Skidmore.

Research conducted by Health & Safety consultancy CE Safety shows there were 735 instances of EV fires in the UK in the last five years. However, this number covers all EV varieties, such as scooters and bikes. 44% of these incidents, approximately 323, involved cars – even though there are nearly 33 million cars on UK roads.

There are also international restrictions on the amount of charge that can be stored in batteries during transportation.

“Having said that, we do need to develop better techniques for putting out electric vehicle fires, on the few occasions when they do occur,” said Skidmore.



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