A Florida senator is calling for action by the Department of Transportation and automakers after a spate of electric vehicle fires linked to Hurricane Ian.
The storm caused flooding and destruction across the state, and firefighters say they are still seeing its effects when EV batteries catch fire after saltwater damage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is aware of multiple fires in Tesla Inc. vehicles, the agency said in a Letter Sent to an official in Florida on Friday and received by the Bloomberg government.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) raised concerns about the fires with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and EV manufacturers — including Tesla, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co.and Stellantis NV — in letters sent Thursday to ask for guidance and whether callbacks will be considered.
“This emerging threat has forced local fire departments to divert resources away from hurricane recovery to control and contain these dangerous fires,” Scott said. “EV car fires have proven to be extremely dangerous and long lasting, in many cases taking up to six hours to burn out.”
The fires could present a new area of concern as the Biden administration seeks to rapidly expand EV use across the country. The administration is aim By 2030, 50% of all new cars sold in the US will be electric.
Scott joins Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, in raising awareness of the issue. Patronis said two homes burned down this week after an electric vehicle caught fire. He has asked manufacturer for help.
Patronus too wrote to NHTSA last week to ask for federal response and guidance. In its response, NHTSA referenced existing technical information and guidance available from the agency and Tesla.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Lithium-ion vehicle battery fires have been observed to be ignited both rapidly and several weeks after battery failure occurs,” Jack Danielson, executive director at NHTSA, wrote in the letter to Patronis.
Electric vehicle fires “pose unique challenges” for firefighters, the NHTSA said in a separate statement to the Bloomberg government. The agency said it was studying the effects of saltwater immersion on batteries when similar problems emerged in electric vehicles after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
In Florida, the second largest state after California, more than 95,000 electric vehicles are registered. corresponding the energy office.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lilianna Byington in Washington [email protected]