The UK regions with the most electric vehicle battery fires in 2022/23 revealed

CE Safety

It’s no secret that the popularity of electric vehicles has grown exponentially over the past decade. The amount of electric cars, scooters and bikes used by the public has increased massively as these vehicles continue to gain popularity. As a result, the number of fires caused by electric batteries has also risen. 

With so much new electric technology on the roads, it’s intriguing to analyse the number of fires caused as a result. That’s exactly what we at CE Safety have done, one year on from our five-year report on electric battery fires

To do this, we sent out Freedom of Information requests and examined the regions with the most electric battery fires throughout the 2022/23 fiscal year. We also investigated the type of electric vehicle having these battery fires to spot any trends among vehicle types, in both sections, we compared this year’s results to our data from 2017-2022.

In the workplace, it’s a legal requirement for anyone in industrial work that involves the application of heat, to undertake hot works passport training in order to obtain a hot works permit. This vital training can ensure workers understand the risks and help prevent fires in the workplace. This is especially critical for anyone who works in the motor industry.

Overall data retrieved from Fire and Rescue Services 

Firstly, let’s examine the total data we collected from our FOI submissions. From the 31 responses received from Fire and Rescue Services around the UK, a total of 390 battery fires occurred throughout the 2022/23 fiscal year

This included 160 battery fires related to electric bikes, which was the worst type of EV in relation to battery fires. 32 fires were categorised as ‘other’ but were caused by uncommon vehicles such as segways, mobility scooters, and hoverboards. 

Overall, 13 fire and rescue services were unable to provide data and we did not receive a reply from 6 services. Additionally, 5 different services revealed that they had 0 battery fires related to electric vehicles throughout the 2022/23 fiscal year. 

The regions with the most electric battery fires in 2022/23

Before we investigate the types of electric vehicles experiencing battery fires, it’s valuable to understand the worst-affected regions throughout the 2022/23 fiscal year. 

When we last examined data (from 2017-2022) Greater London was found to be the worst region, with 507 electric vehicle fires. Our statistics retrieved from the last fiscal year would imply that this five-year statistic could rise, with the capital region experiencing a gigantic 219 battery fires throughout 2022/23, over 200 more than any other region we obtained data for.

Lancashire ranked second, with 16 EV fires related to batteries in the last fiscal year. The region recorded ten more EV fires in the last year than it did in the five-year period between 2017-2022.

Merseyside, which ranked as the second-worst region between 2017-2022 with 43 battery fires, saw 14 electric battery fires related to vehicles during 2022/23.

It’s also essential to note that five regions revealed that they didn’t experience a single electric vehicle fire as a result of batteries; these areas were; Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, North Yorkshire, and Shropshire.

The ten regions with the most electric vehicle battery fires during 2022/23 were:

Overall, it was concerning to discover that the number of electric battery fires throughout the 2022/23 fiscal year was higher in most areas than the data we retrieved over five years between 2017 and 2022.

In particular, Humberside recorded 3 fires between 2017-2022 but experienced 9 in the last full fiscal year. 

However, regions such as Berkshire and Surrey bucked this trend and saw a reduction in the number of EV battery fires in comparison to 2017-2022 data. Berkshire recorded 2 fewer while Surrey, which recorded 21 throughout the five-year period, experienced 8 in 2022/23.

Two regions recorded only one singular fire related to EVs – Suffolk and Northumberland. 

Whether it’s a change in the way these fire and rescue services record data related to electric vehicle battery fires or just a gradual increase in the number of incidents, the sharp increase overall is a worrying sight and it’s clear that more must be done to increase awareness towards EV battery fires.

The types of electric vehicles experiencing battery fires throughout 2022/23

When we think of electric vehicles, our minds might automatically think of cars with giant companies such as Tesla paving the way for new innovative models. However, the reality is that these vehicles come in a wide range of types – including scooters, bikes, cars, and even HGVs.

While we thought it was vital to examine the worst-affected parts of the UK, investigating the types of electric technology where fires have occurred allows us to spot trends and compare the data to our five-year report published in 2022.

The Freedom of Information responses yielded some interesting findings, in particular, some strange electric vehicles experiencing battery fires such as 2 motor homes, 3 hoverboards, and even a segway. 

In terms of more traditional electric vehicles, combined data from all responding Fire and Rescue Services revealed that the most common vehicle to experience a battery fire was electric bikes – with 160 fires throughout 2022/23.

Overall, the types of electric vehicles most commonly experiencing battery fires during 2022/23 were:

Interestingly, a large majority of electric bike fires occurred in the capital – with 104 battery fires related to e-bikes in Greater London. The region also recorded 47 fires with cars and 32 with scooters. 

This is a stark contrast to our five-year report where 10.4% of battery fires were a result of bikes while 43.7% of fires were caused by electric cars. It’s interesting to note that 14 buses also had to be extinguished during the last fiscal year as a result of a battery fire.

While data has been heavily influenced by the results received from the London Fire Brigade, it’s clear that the number of electric battery fires is becoming an issue. With more and more people using this evolving technology, more awareness needs to be created towards potential blazes.

How to avoid electric vehicle fires

As previously mentioned, the popularity of electric vehicles has grown year on year. According to The Guardian, it is believed that there are around 750,000 privately-owned electric scooters in use across the UK – despite it being illegal to ride them anywhere apart from private land. 

Therefore, people must understand the risks associated with the lithium batteries used to power these vehicles so they can use them responsibly and reduce the likelihood of fires.

Lithium batteries pose a danger due to their sensitivity to high temperatures, this means the batteries could overheat and quite easily morph into a fire. Lithium is highly flammable and reactive, therefore over-charging presents a massive risk to households with lithium-powered vehicles. 

Thankfully, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has provided some key tips to help avoid electric vehicle fires – particularly scooters and bikes. Tips such as charging these vehicles outside where appropriate, ensuring smoke alarms are fitted and not overcharging batteries are some of the most essential ways of reducing EV fires.

If possible, they also explain that owners should charge their vehicles throughout the day and avoid charging overnight or while asleep – this allows people to quickly spot and respond to fires should they break out.

While this new wave of electric vehicles has excited the general public, we must remain safe and vigilant towards the lithium batteries used to charge the vehicles. 

Methodology

We contacted 50 fire and rescue services across the UK via Freedom of Information requests to retrieve data regarding electric vehicle battery fires in 2022/23. 

In total, we received 31 responses with relevant data and 13 responses where fire and rescue services were unable to provide the requested information. A total of 6 fire and rescue services have not replied to our FOI request.

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