No, A Tesla Did NOT Start The Fire That Destroyed 300 Cars In Norway, And Other Nordic News


Published on January 10th, 2020 | by Steve Hanley

January 10th, 2020 by  

The internet has been buzzing with news of a gigantic car fire in a parking garage at Stavanger airport in southwestern Norway. The car park (“parking lot” for Americans) holds 3000 cars. Sometime around 3:30 pm on January 8, a fire broke out, and by the time it was contained 6 hours later, 200 to 300 cars had been destroyed and a portion of the garage had collapsed.

Then a funny thing happened: A representative of Gjensidige, a Norwegian insurance company, let it be known that an electric car fire caused the conflagration and referred to electric cars as “fire bombs.” Not long after those intemperate remarks, a rumor started that a Tesla was at fault. Those of us at CleanTechnica were curious about the truth of that claim, so we reached out to regular reader Are Hansen who lives in Norway to see what he could find out.

Diesel, You Say?

Within a few hours, Are got back to us with an article published by Elbil, the Norwegian Electric Car Association, that set the record straight. It says the local police have determined the fire began in a 2005 Opel Zafira diesel-powered car. The owner had just returned from vacation and noticed smoke coming from under the hood when he tried to start it. A second attempt to start the car resulted in flames that completely engulfed the Opel before spreading to other automobiles parked nearby.

Christina Bu, Secretary General of the Norwegian Electric Car Association, had harsh words for the Gjensidige representative. “Of course one should fear a fire in the parking garage, with the serious consequences of major car fires. But that fear should apply to all cars — since all cars burn. Therefore, it is very unfortunate when the communication manager at Gjensidige creates the impression that electric cars are unsafe fire bombs.

“On the contrary, it is very difficult to start a fire in an electric car battery with external heat sources, and any fires in the electric car develop slowly. One should also not create the impression that the fire department can do nothing if an electric car catches fire,” she said.

And yet the myth that electric cars are prone to burst into flames at any moment persists. Clueless people spreading misinformation don’t help the situation.

Another report from Elbil adds that diesel- and gasoline-powered cars are four times more likely to catch fire than electric cars. We’ve presented similar findings in the past. The principle advice Elbil gives electric car owners is to make sure the wiring used to recharge their cars at home is properly sized for the task and installed by a qualified electrician.

Dramatic Increase In DC Fast Chargers

EV chargers in Norway

Credit: Elbil

Last year at this time, there were 25 charging stations rated at 150 kW available in Norway. Today, that number has increased 8 fold to 226. The number of 50 kW chargers has grown 29% to 1,366 and the number of Tesla Superchargers has gone up 37% to 770. In total, there are 13,786 public EV chargers in Norway to service about 270,000 electric cars.

Thanks to generous government policies that favor electric cars, Norway has more EVs per capita than any other country, and the size of its public charging infrastructure is increasing fast enough to keep pace with the number of electric cars on its roads.

Related: More Than 150 Gas Car Fires Per Day — Can We Please Get Serious About Electric Car Battery Fires? 
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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.