Thu. Jan 21st, 2021

TOM KRISHER, by AP Auto Author

DETROIT (AP) – Electric vehicles, according to US investigators, pose safety risks to first responders and manufacturers as to how to deal with them.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that industry safety standards and high-voltage lithium-ion batteries are likely to catch fire.

The agency, which has no enforcement powers and can only make recommendations, called on manufacturers to write vehicle-specific response guides to fight battery fires and limit chemical thermal runways and governance. The guidelines should also include information on how to safely store vehicles with damaged lithium ion batteries.

The recommendations come at a time when automakers are producing many new electric vehicle models, with many in the industry considering it a inflection point in switching from gasoline power to cleaner electricity.

The agency in its Wednesday report asked firefighters and auto towing associations to inform members about the risk of fire and how to deal with the remaining energy in the battery after the accident, and how to safely tow a vehicle with damaged batteries Be stored.

And it is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to include the availability of emergency response guides when it calculates the five-star vehicle safety score.

NHTSA should build a coalition of ways to de-energize batteries and reduce hazards from thermal runways, a chemical reaction that increases uncontrolled battery temperature and pressure.

NTSB launches battery fire investigation after accidents and arson in Lake Forest and Mountain View, CaliforniaAnd in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, In 2017 and 2018. It also investigates a non-accident fire in West Hollywood, California. Three batteries supplied after the fire was extinguished.

All four vehicles were built by Tesla, the largest selling electric vehicle manufacturer in the US

“The ‘trapped’ energy that remains in the damaged battery creates electric shock and battery reign / fire risks,” the agency said.

A fire in Lake Forest in August 2017, a Tesla Model X battery set the vehicle on fire after it left a roadway and crashed into a high-speed residential garage. NTSB engineer and highway investigator Thomas Berth said in an agency video that firefighters poured thousands of gallons of water onto the roof of the vehicle. “They didn’t feel they had to direct the water to the battery compartment under the car to cool the battery and prevent the reaction caused by the fire,” he said.

In an 80-page report, the NTSB wrote that a review of 36 manufacturers’ emergency response guidelines found that all had ways to reduce the risk of high voltage shock, including ways to disconnect the battery. But none of the guides spoke to limit the risk of energy stored in the battery, such as procedures to mitigate the regime or where and how to spray water to cool the battery, the agency said.

The NTS has written that one way to deal with damaged batteries is to pull them off the vehicle and bathe in saltwater.

Messages were dropped on Wednesday seeking comment from NHTSA, Tesla, the National Fire Protection Association and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a large automaker trade group.

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