Electric cars: Federal government sees no more fire risk than incinerators

“From the perspective of the federal government, there is currently no higher fire hazard potential in electric vehicles than in vehicles with conventional combustion engines.” This emerges from a response from the federal government to a small request from the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

In its inquiry, the latter had complained that the federal government had so far ignored, through its “one-sided promotion of electromobility”, that every technology had specific areas of application in which it was the best choice. Every technique also brings with it some pitfalls.

In recent years, fire accidents with electric cars have become known, through which the FDP sees ambiguity in the procedure in a fire and a lack of certifications from the fire departments, which should be eliminated as soon as possible. Fires in e-cars should be able to be extinguished just as safely and routinely as those in vehicles with gasoline and diesel engines

In its answer (PDF), the Federal Government replied that both technologies should be assessed similarly in terms of fire protection and fire prevention. Regardless of the drive technology and the energy used, a vehicle registered in Germany meets the legal requirements that guarantee the highest level of safety.

When asked by the FDP whether there are special certifications and to what extent the fire brigade and police are prepared to deal with fires in electric vehicles, the federal government notes that the training of fire brigades and rescue workers is the responsibility of the federal states, municipalities and communities. The federal government also refers to their responsibility in matters of hazard prevention, i.e. also the protection of the sewage system against hazardous substances that could be released in the event of fires in electric cars.

A year ago, Carsten-Michael Pix, a consultant for fire brigade issues at the German Fire Brigade Association, told heise online that there were no central training courses dealing with electric car fires, among other things. However, experience on this would be passed on, for example, via specialist magazines or in individual training courses at the 24,000 fire service locations.

Audi Q4 e-tron Peak power 125 – 220 kW

Continuous output 70 or 77 kW

Battery capacity 55 kWh gross (Q4 e-tron 35) or 82 kWh

Max.charging power direct current 100 kW (Q4 e-tron 35) or 125 kW (at certain Ionity charging points)

Max.charging power alternating current 7.2 kW (e-tron 35) or 11 kW

Range (WLTP) 306 km (e-tron 35 min.) To 520 km (e-tron 40 max.)

Power consumption (WLTP combined) 17.0 (e-tron 35 min.) To 20.1 kWh / 100 km (e-tron 40 max.)

Top speed: 160 (e-tron 35) or 180 km / h

Boot space: 520 – 1490 liters

Basic prices (gross, as of July 2021): 41,900 to 53,600 euros
(Image: Audi)

The Federal Government believes that the statistical basis for fires, their causes, effects and the respective vehicle technology must be further improved. The charging infrastructure for electromobility counts as energy systems and electrical systems. These are to be set up and operated in such a way that technical safety is guaranteed. This also applies to charging infrastructure that has been or is being built with the help of funding.


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