The US Security Board urges automakers to enhance pointers for fire-fighting electrical automobiles


© Reuters. Tesla’s main vehicle factory reopens in Fremont


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday urged automakers to improve electric vehicle emergency guides, which lack clear information and are hindering efforts to extinguish lithium-ion battery fires.

The recommendations follow a series of NTSB investigations into four Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 battery fires from electric vehicles on U.S. roads in 2017 and 2018, including three high-speed accidents involving the lithium-ion battery after fires were extinguished was re-ignited by firefighters.

NTSB said, “Most manufacturers’ emergency guides for fighting high-voltage fires with lithium-ion batteries lack the necessary vehicle-specific details to suppress the fire.”

Tesla and a group that represented almost every other major automaker didn’t comment immediately.

The agency added that “the lack of clear, vehicle-specific fire-fighting information not only hampers the efficient extinguishing of high-voltage fires with lithium-ion batteries, but can also lead to confusion or unsuitable action by first responders”.

Tesla previously argued that electric vehicles are safer than gasoline-powered vehicles, and that data showed that EV owners are far less likely to experience car fires than gasoline-powered vehicles.

In 2018, there were 212,500 U.S. vehicle fires in which 560 people died, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said. Gasoline ignited in more than half of all vehicle fire deaths. According to the NFPA, existing data collection systems have not yet adequately captured the frequency of EV fires.

NTSB requested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to include the results of the manufacturer’s answer guides in its new vehicle assessment program.

NTSB also urged the NHTSA to convene stakeholders to continue research into ways to mitigate or eliminate the risks posed by high-voltage lithium-ion batteries and to reduce the hazards of high-speed EV crashes.

An NHTSA spokesman did not comment. The agency announced on Friday that it will launch its battery safety initiative for electric vehicles to coordinate research and other efforts.

In November, General Motors (NYSE 🙂 recalled 68,677 electric cars after five reported fires and two minor injuries. The fire hazard recall was for 2017-2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt EVs.

In October, Hyundai Motor Co recalled nearly 77,000 Kona electric vehicles. Possible defects in battery cells increase the risk of a short circuit or fire.

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