Fact Checks

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  • FACT: Electric vehicles are just as safe as traditional gas-powered vehicles, if not safer, as many tests show.

  • There were zero electric vehicle fires in the estimated 194,000 highway vehicle fires that occurred in the United States from 2008 to 2010. (U.S. Fire Administration, January 2013, http://1.usa.gov/UZ4kNU)

  • Electric vehicles are at no greater risk of fire than other types of gas-powered vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, November 2011, http://1.usa.gov/184IU5E).

  • Electric vehicles have to pass the same rigorous safety tests as conventional vehicles, including the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. (U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, http://1.usa.gov/QBLmGY)

  • EVs hold less stored energy than gas-powered vehicles, reducing the overall combustion risk. Gasoline holds 1700 watt-hours per kilogram of energy, whereas even the best lithium-ion batteries can only hold around 200 watt-hours per kilogram. (Scientific American, November 2013, http://bit.ly/18xhg1n)

  • Electric vehicle manufacturers have taken numerous precautions to avoid battery dangers. Vehicle batteries are housed in sealed enclosures that must meet vehicle safety testing standards unique to electric vehicles. Manufacturers must also insulate all high-voltage lines within the vehicle, and those manufacturers have developed a safety mechanism that deactivates vehicles' electrical systems in case of emergency. (Source: Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, August 2012, http://bit.ly/174VKDT)

  • Both the 2011 Chevy Volt and the 2011 Nissan Leaf received top safety ratings. The Volt earned a five-star overall score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program. And the Leaf earned a "Top Safety Pick" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (Source: Electric Drive Transportation Agency, http://bit.ly/TMCvoJ)

  • 33,000+ fire service personnel and first responders in 48 states have been trained on specific electric vehicle safety issues when responding to accidents. (Source: National Transportation Safety Board, 2013, http://1.usa.gov/HVNJZb)

  • Electric vehicles use fewer coolants and fluids than traditional vehicles. This reduces the risk that leaking liquid will catch fire or carry electricity to the exterior of the vehicle. Also, because of the weight of their battery, electric vehicles generally have a lower center of gravity than traditional vehicles, making them less prone to roll-over accidents. (U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, September 2013, http://1.usa.gov/QBLmGY)

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Tesla Model S a five star rating in every category and subcategory, a feat achieved by only 1% of all vehicles tested. The Model S also "set a new record for the lowest likelihood for passenger injury ever achieved in the government tests." (Department of Transportation, August 2013, http://nbcnews.to/166LWnu)

  • Lacking the massive, heavy engines of traditional vehicles, electric vehicles have larger "crumple zones" in both their front and rear. "Crumple zones" absorb and dissipate energy from a collision, offering greater protection to the cab of the vehicle and those in it. (Science Live, September 2013, http://bit.ly/19FoeTR)

  • Car fires become especially fatal when a petroleum fuel source is involved. Only 2% of traditional vehicle fires from 2006-2010 originated in the fuel tank or fuel line, but these fires caused 15% of the associated deaths. (Source: National Fire Protection Agency, September 2012, http://bit.ly/1gO15Vr)

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