Did you know that as of 2021, there are currently over 5.6 million electric cars worldwide? That’s a 64% increase from 2018. However, despite its significant increase in popularity, some still believe the massive battery can release hazardous gases, catch fire, or explode. But how significant is this risk?
Electric cars can catch fire if the batteries are damaged due to a high-speed collision or, far less likely, a software issue causing overheating. A damaged battery on fire will produce toxic fumes and might explode, but this is at least as rare as a traditional car’s gas tank exploding.
While this situation is not unheard of (several Teslas’ have made the news for battery fires after high-speed collisions), it’s not a concern that should drive your car-selection behavior. Electric cars are generally safer than internal-combustion cars because they are, by definition, newer models with more safety features.
How Are Electric Cars Powered?
As the name suggests, electric vehicles run partially on electricity. However, electric cars don’t need an internal combustion engine, unlike regular gas-powered cars.
These vehicles are equipped with a rechargeable battery pack and an electric motor, enabling them to move along without burning up gasoline or producing harmful emissions.
And like regular gas-powered vehicles, electric cars receive energy from specific charging stations. And after charging, the vehicle stores its power in the battery, allowing the motor to move the wheels.
It’s important to note that the most common battery used in electric vehicles is lithium-ion. Its popularity lies in its energy efficiency, high weight-to-power ratio, low power discharge, and good temperature performance.
This battery is also low maintenance and produces larger currents than other batteries. However, the major downside of these batteries is that they are pretty pricey, and concerns have been raised about their likeliness of overheating.
Apart from the battery, other vital components that power an electric car include:
A charge port allows the electric car’s battery pack to receive energy from external sources. These power sources are also commonly referred to as charging stations. Charging an electric vehicle occurs when the car is plugged into a charge port at a commercial station or a private residence.
Once your electric car charges, the vehicle’s inverter changes the flow of electrons from a Direct Current into an alternating current. The alternating current is then used to power the electric car’s motor.
Since lithium-ion batteries only accept Direct Current power and the electric traction motors require Alternating Current power to function, the inverter is a necessary component for an electric vehicle. Without it, this car cannot operate.
Apart from changing the flow of electrons, an electric car inverter also controls the AC frequency power sent to the car’s motors.
Its primary function is to store the energy the car acquires as it charges. This stored energy is then used to power the electric car’s motors and electrical components.
Each part plays a critical role in how the electric vehicle’s battery operates — ensuring that every component functions accordingly to help you maintain a healthy battery.
What are the Dangers Associated with Electric Cars?
Like any other regular car, electric cars do come with several risks. The dangers associated with electric vehicles include:
Without the lithium-ion battery, the functionality of an electric car isn’t possible. And while these batteries do help power the internal electronics and the motors of most electric vehicles, they still pose a danger to the environment and your health, especially when damaged.
The battery case being punctured or damaged in a collision is a genuine concern, but it’s also a well-understood concern.
Automakers have built-in structural failsafes to protect the battery. And the lower center of gravity the battery typically brings to the car is actually a huge safety bonus.
Comparing the Safety of Electric & Internal Combustion Cars
Now that we’ve looked at whether electric cars are dangerous, let’s look at how these cars compare to fuel-powered vehicles.
While lithium-ion batteries are volatile, your electric vehicle bursting into flames is unlikely. A protective cooling shroud surrounds electric vehicle batteries, and it helps prevent short circuits and external damage.
It’s no secret that the price of an electric vehicle is relatively high compared to a fuel-powered car. But, when we talk of affordability, we are looking at fuel savings and maintenance costs.
First, you save more with fuel, as electricity is much cheaper. Second, maintenance costs for an electric car are much lower, as you have fewer parts and fluids you need to change.
The only downside of maintenance costs is that you will be required to change your battery every ten years, which is pretty costly. But with generally lower maintenance and fueling costs, spending some extra money on a new battery once in a while isn’t that bad overall.
Another claim that most people have often made when referring to the dangers of an electric car is that it isn’t safe to use. However, that isn’t true.
Apart from the numerous safety features, most electric vehicles have an extra fire protection layer between the passengers and batteries. This additional protective layer lowers the risk of the passengers getting injured during a collision compared to fuel-powered vehicles.
Are Electric Cars the Wave of the Future?
It’s safe to say that electric cars are the wave of the future. And here’s why:
Lower Carbon Footprint
Unlike gas or petroleum, electricity is a renewable source of energy, making it available in almost every corner of the world.
Cleaner energy also means a lower carbon footprint, making the electric vehicle environmentally friendly. And this energy source is cheaper than ordinary fuel, no matter the source.
Numerous Charging Stations
With an electric vehicle, you never have to worry about a lack of fuel, as you can recharge it anywhere as long as there is a charging station.
And as more electric cars hit the market, new charging stations are popping up, including more public locations, making it easier to access them.
Disadvantages of Electric Vehicles
Every good thing does come with a few downsides. This is no different for electric vehicles. Some of the disadvantages include:
- Price: These vehicles are too expensive to purchase.
- Driving Distance: You cannot go too far in an electric car, especially if there are no charging stations nearby.
Electric vehicles have become the go-to for most people, with the world moving to make the climate better. But, like any regular vehicle, experts recommend you take precautions and drive safely and carefully when using one.