Data indicates UK EV fires almost double in the past year

8th September 2023
Sheryl Miles

Fire and rescue services across the UK have been called to almost twice as many electric vehicle (EV) fires this past year as they were in the previous period, new data obtained by Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions has revealed.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, fire and rescue services across the UK recorded 239 instances of fires related to EVs – an 83% increase from the 130 recorded by those organisations between July 2021 and June 2022.

As of June 2023, fire services recorded an average of 20.1 unintentional fires per month related to EVs, a 30% increase from the 15.5 average monthly EV fires recorded in 2022. This sharp increase can be attributed to the increasing number of EVs on roads across the UK, including cars, trucks, e-bikes, and electric scooters.

Sarah Martin, president of Honeywell Sensing and Safety Technologies (SST), comments on the data: “Although we are seeing a striking increase in fires related to electric vehicles, the number is still low in relation to the total EVs in use across the UK, which exceeds 1.1 million. However, it does reinforce the need for effective lithium-ion battery safety technology. As more EVs take to the roads across the nation, we must ensure our batteries are as safe as possible.

“EV manufacturers should be selecting and certifying batteries that feature effective battery management systems and real-time health monitoring. There are typically early warning signs of an impending battery fire or ‘thermal runaway event,’ such as certain gases being released. Specialised sensors that can detect very small amounts of these gases can help pre-emptively alert users to the problem before it has chance to develop into thermal runway – the precursor to an EV battery fire – and threaten both the vehicle and passenger safety.”

Data was obtained from 21 of the 52 fire and rescue services across the UK following a Freedom of Information inquiry. Many of the fire services contacted only recorded and held limited data related to EV fires, while others held no data on the topic. Data collection regarding EV fires and the resources it takes to extinguish them is still in its infancy — and the data collated by Honeywell only reveals part of the picture.

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