Burning SUV on northbound US-101 postcrash.
WASHINGTON (June 1, 2022) — Eight electric vehicle manufacturers have incorporated an NTSB recommendation on improving their emergency response guides and incorporating vehicle-specific information for fighting high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles. Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Proterra, Van Hool, Volkswagen and Volvo have successfully completed the actions asked for in the NTSB recommendation.
NTSB issued the recommendation in January 2021 to 22 electronic car manufacturers. Twelve manufacturers (BMW, BYD, Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US), Ford, General Motors, Gillig, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru, Tesla and Toyota) are making progress on the steps identified in the recommendation and two manufacturers (Nova Bus Corporation and Karma Automotive) have not yet responded.
“First responders deserve to have the information they need to stay safe when providing post-crash care—and that includes knowing how to suppress a high-voltage lithium-ion battery fire,” said Chair Jennifer Homendy. “Our recommendation is a simple but powerful action that can save the lives of first responders and crash victims alike. I congratulate the eight electric vehicle manufacturers that have stepped up and call on the remaining 14 companies to implement our recommendation immediately.”
The recommendation was issued as a result of an NTSB safety report entitled Safety Risks to Emergency Responders from Lithium-Ion Battery Fires in Electric Vehicles. Safety Report 20/01 identified two main safety issues through an NTSB investigation:
- The inadequacy of vehicle manufacturers’ emergency response guides and
- The gaps in safety standards and research related to high-voltage lithium-ion batteries involved in high-speed, high-severity crashes.
Fires in electric vehicles powered by high-voltage lithium-ion batteries pose the risk of electric shock to emergency responders from exposure to the high-voltage components of a damaged lithium-ion battery. A further risk is that damaged cells in the battery can experience thermal runaway—uncontrolled increases in temperature and pressure—which can lead to battery reignition. The risks of electric shock and battery reignition/fire arise from the “stranded” energy that remains in a damaged battery.
Watch this NTSB video to learn more about Safety Report 20/01: https://youtu.be/J6eS6JzBn0k
To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).