NHTSA spending $8.75 million to research fire risk from electric-vehicle batteries

2011 Nissan LEAF

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started its $8.75 million study of whether lithium-ion batteries in electric cars post a potential fire hazard. Kevin Vincent, the chief counsel of the NHTSA, said that the agency is looking at whether the high-voltage batteries can cause fire while being charged or when the vehicle is involved in an accident.

“We don’t want anyone to burn down their house when they’re charging the car,” Vincent said. “And no one has a good handle on the safety of the vehicle after a crash.”

Vincent said that the reason behind research comes due to the noted risk of 400-volt lithium ion batteries compared with standard 12-volt lead-acid batteries that are used in gasoline-electric hybrid cars.

A spokeswoman for the NHTSA said that there were no electric-vehicle fires that triggered the agency to start the research. The research is expected to continue through 2014.

– By: Omar Rana

Source: Automotive news