The auto industry is headed towards an electric vehicle future, but that doesn't mean there aren't safety issues causing alarm bells. Following Hurricane Ian, Florida firefighters have been tasked with putting out EV battery fires multiple times in hardest-hit regions.
Once saltwater hits a battery, the lithium-ion batteries begin to corrode, and that's where the problem begins.
These types of fires prove to be extremely difficult to fully extinguish as it's a constant flow of water to cool down and neutralize the battery. If that wasn't bad enough, there always is the possibility a fire reignites, even a couple of days after the initial fire.
It can take up to six hours for an EV battery fire to burn out, so that means firefighters spent prolonged time monitoring these damaged batteries.
There have been at least nine incidents related to flooded electric vehicles on fire in parts of the state, according to Florida State Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis.
Patronis also asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk to answer a few questions related to EV battery testing and the results from these findings. In addition, Patronis also offered this jab toward EV makers:
"The unfortunate reality is that there is a population of vehicles that could spontaneously combust, putting our first responders at risk, and the manufacturers are nowhere to be found. For as big a risk as this is to fire teams, for companies who have received an immense sum of subsidies from taxpayers, I would have hoped the reaction by manufacturers would have been more robust - especially as these EVs supposedly have a tremendous amount of technology and connectivity."
It's recommended that EV owners concerned about saltwater damage keep their EVs at least 50 feet away from any other vehicles. Some EVs in southwest Florida also have been stored at a designated lot.
There is a fast-moving trend toward EVs, but there clearly are plenty of questions that need to be answered moving forward. To be fair, EVs catch on fire less than gas or hybrid vehicles but generate headlines because of how difficult it is to put out a fire.