By on February 18, 2020

Image: Porsche AG

While car fires may not be commonplace, they still happen. Your author saw a Buick Century burning itself into nothing along the West Side Highway not more than three months ago. Local media referenced it as the probable cause for midday delays, but it would have earned its own story had it been a rarer model.

Exotics and electrics garner headlines when they do their best impression of kindling; regular cars only get attention when they’re catching fire en masse. In addition to the warm feeling one gets when learning a car they can’t afford has destroyed itself, there are loads of people who are curious about the dependability of burgeoning technologies. Hypercars are often on the bleeding edge of available tech and are assembled in low volumes. As a result, eyebrows are raised anytime one goes up in smoke for no apparent reason.

Electrics vehicles are in a similar situation. Reportedly poised to take over the world someday, they’ve yet to saturate the market and still stand out wherever they’re parked. Battery fires, which offer the departments tasked with fighting them new challenges, have also become a point of interest after a batch of EVs in Asia turned up the heat

While the brunt of the offending vehicles were Chinese makes, a video clip of a burning Tesla Model S surfaced in Shanghai last April. Subsequent Tesla fires led the manufacturer to tweak its software in an attempt to avoid similar issues (which it believes were caused by charging problems). Despite being relatively few in number, the fires have opened up concerns about the risks associated with battery tech, placing many on their toes. We even caught wind of a Hyundai Kona that “exploded” in Montreal last summer.

Over the weekend, another EV-related fire occurred in Florida. According to Electrek, one of the 130 Porsche Taycan models sold in the United States last year burned down the garage housing it. Though most of these incidents usually involve reports of the formerly unburnt vehicle charging at the time of the accident, it’s unclear what happened with the Taycan. The EV definitely burnt down the garage (there’s next to nothing left of it), but the fire may not have started with the car.

Porsche confirmed that the automobile was indeed a Taycan, saying only that it was far too early in the investigation to assume anything. We’re inclined to agree. Much of the reporting surrounding incendiary batteries seems to take aim at the car being the cause before all the evidence is gathered.

“We are investigating and we remain ready to assist if called upon,” explained a Porsche spokesman. “No one was harmed in this incident, and it’s too early to speculate on the cause until the investigation has concluded.”

While industry analysts repeatedly claim that EVs self-immolate less often than gasoline-driven automobiles, most of the high-profile electrics we’ve seen emerge over the last few years have had some kind of minor fire scare. Which isn’t to suggest the entire segment is unsafe; it just warrants some level of attentiveness. Don’t be fooled into thinking these stories are part of some pattern underpinning a gigantic safety hazard, but don’t presume automakers have already mastered battery technology either. We’ll continue tracking these reports and attempt to quantify how terrified you should be of electric vehicles. We currently recommending not being scared at all.

[Image: Porsche]

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6 Comments on “Nobody Panic: Porsche Taycan Fire Confirmed by Automaker, Cause Unknown...”


  • avatar
    mcs

    “but don’t presume automakers have already mastered battery technology either.”

    Not sure they’ve mastered ICE technology either:
    https://fortune.com/2020/02/07/hyundai-recall-2020-engine-fires/

    Yeah, 3,100 fires. How many EV fires again?

    Some of the new battery chemistries won’t have flammability issues. Even once the battery issues are resolved, there are probably still ways the cars (any cars) can catch fire.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      mcs – The Hyundai fires reported on by fortune.com that you appear to be equating with ICE technology were, in fact, more related to EV’s as the fire issue was electrical in nature with energy sourced from electrical storage batteries which are also utilized as the large and energetic main source of energy for an EV. Perhaps we should eliminate electrical storage batteries from ICE-tech vehicles to prevent recurrence. As for fires in EVs, the energy produced during an overheat/short circuit/et al cannot be simply quenched/mitigated with simple fire fighting agents (water/AFFF/CO2/PPK/HALON) as for common liquid fuels in the amounts found in the average vehicle. The chemical flammability of battery chemistry is not the issue here as the energy released from a damaged battery continues to impart energy to surrounding components thus igniting and continuing to cause reflash fire hazards of the surrounding materials and remains hazardous until the battery is discharged and then leaves hazardous/toxic chemical residue behind. One of the European countries (I don’t remember which) utilizes a water filled dumpster to drop the burning EV into for a safe extended cooldown.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The real concern with the Taycan is how few have been sold so far.

    If the car was indeed the cause, they’ll have to “un-Fisker” the situation in order to save the entire product.

    Fire marshals are usually pretty good at figuring out the source. My garage has many potential sources and many fuels available, including the EV, several rechargeable power tools, gasoline, paint, various chemicals, and lots of wood. The destruction of my house would be complete.

  • avatar

    Why articles in TTAC are so lengthy? You can put the article above in one sentence: “Garage with Taycan inside burned down to ashes and nobody knows why”. End of story, or rather non-story.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Is he sure that he wants a truck? An Explorer or a Traverse with the towing package is rated at 5000 pounds towing and would handle the load.

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