Early this year 2021, a deadly car crash in Singapore resulted in widespread media attention and discussion. 5 young men were racing in the early hours of the morning in the narrow streets of an older part of Singapore. All died tragically in the crash. The saddest part was that the girlfriend of one of the dead men went to the burning car and tried to save her boyfriend. Without the fire, the men would have been dead anyway, but why was the car engulfed in flames which eventually caused severe burns to the girl trying to extricate her boyfriend from the car? How causes car fires?
For the internal combustion engine cars, there is fuel flowing through many parts of the car. The fuel tank is usually located at the back of the car, and the fuel has to be transported to the front into the engine, passing through various channels. Fuel is carried via these channels through hoses and casings, which have valves, rubber hoses, various types of clips, bolts and nuts and so on, all of which are subjected to ageing and deterioration, or even defects due to lack of proper maintenance. However, sometimes, fuel leaks can be due to manufacturing defects.
Fuel is highly flammable (that's why it is used for the combustion), and when leaked, a small spark can result in fires. Hence, wherever the fuel may pass through, there is a chance of fire. The spark can come from heat, electrical short circuit, or even from external environment (never park the vehicle near flammable items).
Fuel is not the only cause of car fires. Oil can also start a fire. All oil in the car including transmission fluid, brake fluid, radiator coolant, and power steering fluid circulating throughout their respective systems when a vehicle is running can cause fires. However, fuel is the most dangerous because it is highly flammable. Other than fuel and oil, gases can also ignite. For instance, battery charging can result in gas being released, which can lead to fire when ignited. Likewise, storage of fuel also results in gases which can also ignite.
Ok, having explained all these, now let's compare with the electric car. There is no engine. No fuel. Less oil. No combustion operation that causes fires. So EV is much safer than ICE in terms of possibility of fire? Well, yes and no. In the EV, the cause of fire will invariably be from BATTERIES. There is little chance of the motor catching fire. Hence, when battery technology reaches a very high level of fire resistance, we can say goodbye to car fires. To me and all EV supporters, this is great news.