Hurricane Sandy gave the Eastern portion of the United States a what for last week, not to mention the Caribbean and points far beyond. Amid all the destruction and misery the automotive industry was impacted in a number of ways. In particular, the safety of electric cars has been brought up.
The million-dollar question is why did 17 EVs burn at Port Newark? If you’re counting, that’s 16 Fisker Karma luxury cars and one Toyota Prius. Is it an inherent design flaw? Are electrics just a risky proposition? Did a confluence of extremely rare weather conditions cause the blazes?
“We can’t be certain exactly what happened at the port,” said Russell Datz, a Fisker spokesman. He also said “we think being submerged in 13 feet of saltwater had something to do with it.”
Three Toyota Prius hybrids were damaged by fire at Port Newark. Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman said “one Prius out and out burned, the others just kind of smoldered and got really hot.” The cars in question were all Prius Plug-In Hybrids.
Some 4,000 Toyotas were parked at Port Newark during the storm. Of that total more than 2,200 of them were hybrids or plug-in models.
Exposure to saltwater could have been the culprit in these fires. Seawater is much more electrically conductive than freshwater. It could have easily shorted out the cars’ batteries, generating a tremendous amount of heat in the process.
Another possible reason why so many Fiskers got torched has to do with how they were parked. Judging by pictures, the cars were closely spaced. The fire could have easily spread between them.
When asked about these vehicle fires the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not respond.
[Source: The New York Times]