Hybrids & Electrics

Fire Danger: Underground Parking Lot Bans Electric Vehicles

Heat and fire rise. What does this mean for underground garages housing electric vehicles? We know that electric vehicle battery fires are difficult to extinguish. Though the incidents of battery fires are statistically low it does happen. That means we could see a rise in fires from garages to parking lots as EV usage grows. That’s one reason why this parking garage bans electric vehicles from using their facility.

This happened in Germany. A Volkswagen Golf caught fire in a parking garage. It was not an EV. But according to inFranken, when repairs were made and the garage reopened users were met with a new rule. The civil engineering department posted, “In the future electric and hybrid vehicles will no longer be allowed to park in the underground car park.”

Fire brigades can’t extinguish these lithium-ion battery fires

A Tesla on fire in the middle of the street
Tesla fire | Getty

RELATED: Worldwide There Have Been An Increasing String Of EV Fires

The reason given by the civil engineering department explained in a bit more detail why. It said that fire brigades can’t extinguish these lithium-ion battery fires. So their procedure is to let them burn themselves out. But the underground car park ceilings are not high enough to get heavy equipment to pull out burning cars. That’s why it instituted the EV ban.

Since lithium-ion fires are a chemical reaction they can only be cooled not extinguished. They end up burning for several days in some cases. In that case, damage to the parking structure would be extensive. So for this parking structure, it has chosen to ban all electrified vehicles. That includes hybrids, PHEV, and EVs, whether they contain lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride batteries. 

Insurance companies see the same risk whether in Germany or Florida

Car fire | Getty

You may think that since this happened in Germany those of us in the US won’t be affected. But insurance companies see the same risk whether in Germany, Alaska, or Florida. And, as you know, we have many thousands of underground parking garages with low ceilings. Those located directly under a commercial building could destroy the entire structure. 

It is hard to say if or when this type of electric vehicle ban may come into effect. But it looks to be a serious issue that we could face in the next few years. Especially with the rise of EV usage and ultimate bans on internal combustion vehicles.