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EVs - Safety risks in Electric Vehicle crashes

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To add to our discussion during tonight's meeting, here is an article I did, originally for a police magazine, but I got a request from Canadian Firefighter Magazine to reprint it for them because the science behind fire suppression was still so new.

I am not going to comment on allowing electric vehicles onto the track, other to say that in the very very rare event a battery box is compromised and a cell starts burning, NOTHING will put it out. It has to burn itself out, and firefighters can only pour water on the battery box for hours, if not days, only to try to prevent adjacent cells from catching fire.

Basically, if it happens on the road race track, it will sit there until the cells are all burned out, and the possibility of burning a huge hole through the asphalt is likely. That being said, battery boxes are built to survive tremendous crashes, so I would surmise the possibility of one being compromised would be akin to a well-constructed fuel cell breaking apart.

By the way, if we ever allow electric vehicles on the track, the F500 fire extinguishers are about five times the cost of regular extinguishers.

Safety Risks in Electric Vehicle Crashes.pdf

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  • 4 weeks later...

Discussions will continue on EVs at the AGM. It will be up to the members to decide. I have done a lot of research on EVs, and I would suggest the risk of a rupture of the battery box and fire in a battery cell would be slight, but must still be considered by members.

If a cell catches fire, it generates its own oxygen and cannot be put out. The only option is to pour extinguishing agents or water on adjacent cells to prevent a chain-reaction fire and let the burning cell burn out completely. No one will be willing or equipped to tow a burning EV off the track, so wherever it ends up, is where the fire department is going to pour water on it for hours (or maybe even days.) This will cause massive damage to the track if such an event ever happens.

Personally, I think the risks in slalom and perhaps hot laps and time attack are slight. I feel the risks in door-to-door racing are far greater.

Jay made some very important points about indemnity clauses at last night's meeting. They will be a necessary step. But if I understand correctly, after an incident with the guard rail, the person involved stopped answering communications and the club never recovered a dime for the damages.

On October 13, 2023, Ford Motor Company just recalled 35,000 Mustang Mach E EVs because connectors that are designed to isolate the battery box from the vehicle after a crash can overheat when the throttle is used strongly and repeatedly (pretty much the definition of what we do) and the Mustang Mach E can unexpectedly lose power. Also, if the connectors overheat badly enough, they may fuse and not disconnect properly in a crash.

I think EVs are an important topic to discuss and I would especially like to thank Jay for the work he has done on this topic and the possible indemnity clauses we might be able to use.

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