By on May 29, 2012

Pictures of a burning BYD e6 sent the already beaten down BYD stock on a nose-dive yesterday.  The e6 is one of the rare BYD electric cars, used in a taxi test in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. A Nissan GT-R had crashed into two taxis, one a conventional Santana, the other an electric e6. The e6 immediately did burst into flames. Two female passengers and the driver were killed.

According to, “investors are extremely worried about implications for BYD’s electric vehicle sales.” Such as they were.

Last year, news of burning Volts and burning charging stations became the fuel of inflammatory anti-EV rhetoric. Earlier this year, GM announced a fix to its battery pack after an NHTSA investigation into why a Volt caught fire following crash testing.

The lithium used in lithium ion batteries can be extremely flammable under certain circumstances.

“Lithium burns really hot,” engineering consultant Sandy Munro told Automotive News. “But it doesn’t happen often. You have to do something pretty dramatic to make it catch fire.”

Such a dramatic incident can occur during an accident when a ;piece of steel pierces the battery case. A chemical reaction can take place and may result in a fire.. If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur, Munro said.

Today, BYD issued a statement, saying its battery pack is safe because it has passed all tests “required by relevant authorities.” The stock recovered.

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15 Comments on “Burning BYD EV Gets Frosty Reception...”

  • avatar

    The battery chemistry BYD uses is very resistant to catching fire.. it is low voltage and the electrolyte is water based.. perhaps a massive short just vaporized the 1000+ lbs battery or the driver was transporting a 5 gallon container of gasoline. Perhaps the 250lbs of aluminum in the battery ignited.

  • avatar

    Well thats an interesting side benefit to EV’s. – Movie style explosions/fires are now a reality.

  • avatar

    Obama will love this

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger


      I can understand that either the Volt or Fisker fires could vaguely be attached to an administration that it is enthusiastic about alternative energy, but a faulty design from China?

      • 0 avatar

        “Obama” is now just a word that some people throw out whenever something bad happens. They’ll sarcastically shout “Thanks, Obama!” every time they get pulled over for speeding, pay sales tax on a purchase, or stub their toe on a piece of furniture.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        After a while, it becomes a reflexive action. Since so MANY of our problems have been either created or exacerbated by the current administration, it becomes as NATURAL AS BREATHING to presume that everything bad that happens is the fault of Obama and his minions. It becomes a conditioned response.

        I could spend the day attempting to educate those who are unwilling or unable to grasp this fact with recitation of endless facts, but I’d rather talk about cars….

    • 0 avatar

      Stick to the topic.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Years ago, there were a few fires with laptop and cellphone batteries.
    I remember reading the report, and the gist was that some lithium chemistries have both the fuel and the oxidizer separated by the thinnest of barriers. A thin barrier is required to maximiz the energy conversion. If that barrier is breached, a fire will occur that cannot be extinguished by traditional means.

    The industry changed the chemistries and provided much thicker and improved barriers. Of course, cost and weight increased, energy density was somewhat reduced.

    BYD may have chosen a less safe battery, both for cost and range considerations.

    But, as the article mentions, not without some irony: “Today, BYD issued a statement, saying its battery pack is safe because it has passed all tests “required by relevant authorities.” The stock recovered.”

    • 0 avatar

      “BYD said the taxi was hit by a luxury sports car from behind travelling at no less than 180 kph (110 mph), causing significant damage to the taxi.
      “After multiple rounds of crash and spinning, the car body was badly distorted and later turned into fire,” BYD said in a statement.”

      The early generation of laptop cells used a lithium-cobalt chemistry.. they would outgas hydrogen if overcharged or if they had a thermal runaway event at relatively low temperatures.. cells made of lithium manganese spinel (Volt, Leaf and most modern BEVs) are much more resistant to thermal runaway, they have to get close to 500°F, but some of the risk is the organic liquids used in the electrolyte.. they will boil at around 200°F , vaporize and breakdown into methane and ethane gases as the temperature increases, flammable vapors if a spark is provided.. this happened in the Volt fires when the batteries got hot enough after they shorted.

      The BYD lithium-iron phosphate chemistry is very resistant to all this, and the electrolyte is water based so even that danger is not there.

      • 0 avatar

        110 mph?

        BYD’s e6 must have the best body structure in the industry then. That looks like only 35 mph worth of damage. Build that car with a gas engine, and nobody would ever get hurt! Just like the magical GT-R and VW Santana that were also in this accident and protected their occupants.

      • 0 avatar

        Looks like more than a 35 mph speed differential from the BYD pic, but certainly not a 110 mph differential. The GTR looks a lot better though. Maybe the BYD was doing 40 mph when hit, and the GTR had slowed to 85 mph at the moment of impact. Tough to say from the pictures and limited info provided, but it was a pretty good impact. The folded roof and crumpled rear door look similar to what happened to the front half of my ’87 Grand Am in a 60 mph head-on. Of course, it didn’t have to contend with 4000 pounds of GTR when I was hit.

        Very unfortunate for the BYD’s occupants. At the very least, the GTR driver should never be allowed to operate a vehicle on public roads again.

  • avatar

    “BYD issued a statement, saying its battery pack is safe because it has passed all tests required by relevant authorities. ”

    Sounds like chinese corporations are at least 20 years behind the times when it comes to corporate PR and crisis management. Any american corporation would have said something like “This is a very unusual outcome since our cars have been thoroughly crash tested in the harshest conditions possible. We will fully investigate the incidence to ensure the highest standards of safety for our customers….”

  • avatar

    The city of Windsor in Ontario (Canada) is actively involved in negotiations with BYD to get an electric bus factory established there (they’ve already agreed to purchase a certain number of such buses, as incentive I would assume). This may not bode well…

  • avatar
    D in the D

    So… BYD = Burn You Down? Nice headline.

    The more apparent issue here is, “do you really expect to withstand that kind of an impact in ANYTHING?” It would turn a Subaru or a Honda into a fireball, too.

    I am the last one to defend Chinese “engineering”, but this is ignorant journalism. Come on.

  • avatar

    Warren Buffett must be thrilled…

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