Spontaneous Combustion: A Serious Product Defect

Why do electric car batteries frequently burst into flame? In my opinion, EVs are essentially an obsolete technology even without this glaring flaw. But those who are trying to force them down our throats should be made to explain why this isn’t a serious issue.

Most recently, a cargo ship called the Fremantle Highway burned out of control in the North Sea due to a fire caused by an electric battery:

The race is on to prevent the sinking of a cargo ship off the Dutch coast which is carrying almost 3,000 vehicles, including 350 Mercedes-Benz, as it burns out of control with an electric car believed to be behind the deadly fire.

At least one crew member died and others were injured after fire ripped through the Fremantle Highway, a 18,500-ton car-carrying vessel. Rescue helicopters and boats evacuated 23 crew members from the Panamanian-registered ship.

Officials have said there are ‘many’ wounded.

Other ships rescued crew members, sprayed water on the fire to try to put it out, and attempted to tow the Fremantle Highway to safety.

Early reports described the ship’s cargo:

The cargo ship was transporting 2,857 cars from Bremen, Germany to Port Said, Egypt, 25 of which were electric cars. It was one of the electric cars that caught fire, a spokesperson for the coastguard told Reuters.

But that turned out to be wrong:

Not only are there more cars aboard than previously reported, revised to up to 3,783 from the previous figure of 2,857, but Fremantle Highway’s electric vehicle (EV) contingent of 498 is far higher than the 25 initially reported.

This is not the first time a cargo ship transporting electric vehicles has caught on fire:

This means batteries made up a higher proportion of the vessel’s cargo than on Felicity Ace, a car carrier which sank mid-Atlantic after catastrophic fires last year carrying only 281 EVs.

It is sometimes said that EV batteries are likely to spontaneously combust if they have been damaged, but that apparently isn’t what happened here:

Following the loss of Felicity Ace, safety measures were taken throughout the car carrier sector, including K-Line compatriot MOL refusing to load used or damaged electric cars. This, however, would not have saved Fremantle Highway as all the vehicles on the ship are reportedly new.

The latest word is that the fire on the Fremantle Highway is pretty much out, and authorities are trying to find a destination to which the ship can be towed.

Meanwhile, one person is dead and considerably more injured, and the financial loss will be large. Normally it would not be possible to market a product that carries a material risk of spontaneous combustion. Regulatory authorities wouldn’t permit it, and if the product found its way into use its manufacturer would be deluged with lawsuits. Are EVs such political favorites that this kind of risk will be tolerated? Perhaps by regulators and government authorities, but not by plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.