Teslas Flooded During Hurricane Ian Are Spontaneously Igniting in its Aftermath
Teslas flooded by Hurricane Ian have spontaneously ignited more than a week after the storm, according to Florida fire authorities interviewed by News Nation.
"Anytime you mix electrical components and salt water together, it is a recipe for disaster," Stephen Gollan, of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, told News Nation.
The North Collier Fire District told the station that it has had to cut into four Teslas in the past week to put out fires.
Saltwater corrodes wiring and battery components, often leading to shorts or exposed wiring. It's not hard for that to become a raging fire, as a small spark can eventually cause thermal runaway that ignites the entire battery pack. Because of lithium's inherent volatility, once a fire starts, it's an arduous process to get it back under control. Even when the flames are fully extinguished and the battery is doused with water and foam, the fire can still reignite itself. Some departments quarantine EVs for 24 hours or submerge them in fresh water during this time to stop re-ignition.
This problem likely isn't limited to Tesla EVs. No large lithium battery pack is designed for long-term submersion in salt water. While it is theoretically possible that other EVs could have some additional safety measures or waterproofing, the focus on Teslas is likely because the company has sold far, far more EVs in the U.S. than any other manufacturer and has been selling long-range EVs for longer.
I asked @NHTSAgov to provide guidance to Florida on how to handle EVs impacted by saltwater from Hurricane Ian. I’m concerned these cars may be ticking time bombs. MORE HERE: https://t.co/n0TkKZGSEo pic.twitter.com/BD5lePwQjV
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 7, 2022
Florida State Fire Marshall Jimmy Patronis said on Twitter that he was asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into the issue. He posted the letter in its entirety, with a caption saying he is concerned that these cars are "ticking time bombs." The letter asks the federal regulator to share information about the risks posed by EVs in floods and the guidance for first and second responders, in addition to questions about whether EV companies are communicating the potential danger to buyers.
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