Series of Tesla Fires in Florida Linked to Saltwater Damage From Hurricane Ian

By Lillianna Byington | October 17, 2022

A Florida senator is calling for action from the Transportation Department and automakers after a series of electric vehicle fires tied to Hurricane Ian.

The storm caused flooding and destruction across the state, and fire officials say they are still seeing its impact with EV batteries catching fire after saltwater damage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is aware of multiple fires in Tesla Inc. vehicles, the agency said in a letter sent Friday to a Florida official and obtained by Bloomberg Government.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) raised concerns about the fires to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and EV makers — including Tesla, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Stellantis NV — in letters sent Thursday, asking for guidance and whether any recalls are being considered.

“This emerging threat has forced local fire departments to divert resources away from hurricane recovery to control and contain these dangerous fires,” Scott said. “Car fires from electric vehicles have proven to be extremely dangerous and last for a prolonged period, taking in many cases up to six hours to burn out.”

The fires could represent a new area of concern as the Biden administration seeks to rapidly expand electric vehicle use across the country. The administration is aiming to have 50% of all new cars sold in the US be electric by 2030.

Scott joins Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, in drawing attention to the issue. Patronis said two houses burned down this week after an EV caught fire. He has asked manufacturers for help.

Patronis also wrote to NHTSA last week asking about the federal response and guidance. In its reply, NHTSA pointed to existing technical information and guidance available from the agency and from Tesla.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Lithium-ion vehicle battery fires have been observed both rapidly igniting and igniting several weeks after battery damage occurred,” Jack Danielson, executive director at NHTSA, wrote in the letter to Patronis.

Fires in EVs “pose unique challenges” for firefighters, NHTSA said in a separate statement to Bloomberg Government. The agency said it has been researching the effect of saltwater immersion on batteries when similar issues emerged with EVs after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

There are more than 95,000 electric vehicle registrations in Florida, the second-most state after California, according to the Energy Department.

Photograph: A logo is displayed on a Tesla Inc. electric vehicle charging at the Tesla Supercharger station in Fremont, Calif., on Monday, July 20, 2020. Photo credit: Nina Riggio/Bloomberg

Topics Florida Catastrophe Natural Disasters Hurricane Tesla

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.

Latest Comments

  • October 24, 2022 at 3:10 pm
    Interested says:
    I failed to mention that the plugging in of the electric vehicles overnight more than doubled the electric bill of the home.
  • October 24, 2022 at 10:25 am
    Interested says:
    And people weren't buying cars. They didn't need them. The train and the bus took them where they needed. Then the trains went into disrepair, and whala, people started buying... read more
  • October 24, 2022 at 10:22 am
    Interested says:
    The household uses the MOST when these are charging. The house is powered by fuel. They use fuel to power the factories that build these cars. They use fueled heavy equipment ... read more

Add a CommentSee All Comments (19)Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More News
More News Features