Are gas powered cars more of a fire hazard than electric cars?

The interior of a Tesla Model 3, owned by Jeff and Jill Raywood of Holland (Source; Getty)EVs
The interior of a Tesla Model 3, owned by Jeff and Jill Raywood of Holland (Source; Getty)EVs /

Since the dawn and creation of cars all around the world, it has always been fuelled by gas energy. You simply drive into a petrol station to fill up the tank, pay and you’re on your way again. But how safe are gas powered to electric vehicles such as Tesla’s?

Before we get into the advanced talks of an electric car, we need to understand how the car works. With a battery that is physically able to move such weight, energy is pulled from the battery which is then turned into power by the electric motor. If you have ever owned an electric vehicle you would know how fast your car is able to accelerate as the motor generates more and more torque, the car becomes a mini jet. Owning a electric vehicle also means your car is free from any fuel and combustible energy.

Electric vehicles work by simply plugging your charger into a charging port which then takes power from the charging stand. The energy is then stored in the car battery that powers the car. These charging stations can be found all over the United Kingdom, from major high street supermarket car parks to highway service stations.

So now we understand how electric vehicles work, let us focus on which type is more likely to set on fire due the mechanical or systematic faults. The truth is, vehicles that have engines that work on fuels to create combustion energy is more likely to catch or cause a fire. This is because aged petrol powered vehicles are more probe to have leaking pipes or even mechanical breakdowns that can play a factor in this.

However, this does not mean that electric vehicles are 100% safe either. They need to go through rigerous testing in order to make sure the product is up to standard as per the regulations of the local laws in all states. Furthermore, a report in 2020 concluded that an electric vehicle that catches on fire because of the battery could possibly require around 150,000 litres of water to extinguish, where as a gas powered car could be extinguised with around 700 to 1000 litres of water.

What is the difference between gas and lithium battery fires?

One major difference between a petrol/diesel cars to electric vehicles is the duration it takes for the fire to become ingited. Once a heat source or spark touches the substance, it will most likley ingite at the same moment spreading into the petrol bay. If your vehicle ever does set on fire, it is highly critcial that you stand at a distance back as at any moment your car could explode in a fire ball due to the remaining fuel in the petroleum tank. However these fires can be extinguised within 45 minutes to 2 hours by fire responders.

On the other hand, battery powered electric cars would take quite a while in order for the battery to reach a certain temprature which would ignite the fire. In the past electric car manufactures such as Tesla have warned fire departments that the time it would take to put out a fire is significantly higher than normal gas cars.