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Last week, an electric Volkswagen ID.3 caught fire in the Slovak village of Miloslavov near the capital Bratislava, the Fire and Rescue Corps of the Slovak Republic informed. Due to the popular myth of electric vehicles (EV) being prone to catching fire, a wave of anti-EV comments flooded the social media in the central European country.

The incident was labeled as a “first-ever electric car fire” in the country by the local media. However, it turned out the German car manufacturer was quite literally an innocent victim. The security camera footage from a neighboring house published by JOJ TV revealed the car didn’t catch fire – it was set on fire instead.

Fire and Rescue Corps informed that the car was not plugged into the wall charger when the incident occurred. And although the car was heavily damaged beyond repair, it was, ironically, the high-voltage battery pack that survived the inferno without catching fire and burning down.

The security camera footage suggested that the car was set on fire by an unknown person who sneaked onto the front of the vehicle for a brief moment. The individual then ran away while sparks of light were visible on the scene.

The myth of electric vehicles being prone to catching fire is often used as one of the main arguments against the move toward e-mobility.

The EV market is still relatively young and there is not enough global data about fire-related incidents. However, data that are already available tend to favor electric cars over combustion engines when it comes to a fire hazard conversation.

“All the data shows that EVs are just much, much less likely to set on fire than their petrol equivalent. The many, many fires that you have for petrol or diesel cars just aren’t reported,” The Guardian cites Colin Walker, the head of transport at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank.

In its own defense, Elon Musk’s Tesla claims there has been approximately one Tesla vehicle fire for every 210 million miles traveled between 2012 and 2021, while the U.S. average is one vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled, per data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation.

That being said, there is no doubt electric vehicles are indeed catching fire on their own, too. The point is that these incidents are clearly not as widespread as some might think and that we don’t have enough data to make highly accurate comparisons – for now.

Image: Fire and Rescue Corps of the Slovak Republic

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