Talk for Article "Fact check: Elon Musk’s claim about annual combustion engine car fires."

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    Responding to Joseph Paxton ‘s very informative reply, the CNN report mentions that:

    About 174,000 vehicle fires were reported in the United States in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the National Fire Protection Association”

    This number is far from what Elon Musk cited, but first we need to :

    1- the report by NFPA is the latest one.
    2- The mentioned vehicle are really ” combustion engines”.

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    There is some information about vehicle fires in the UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/announcements/incident-level-datasets-covering-road-vehicle-fires-and-other-building-fires-attended-by-fire-and-rescue-services-in-england-april-2010-to-march-201.

    It appears that the rates are about 2 fires per thousand vehicles per year, about half of which are arson, typically of stolen or unattended vehicles. There is roughly 1 fatality per 1000 fires. Since there are about a billion cars in the world, if those figures are valid world-wide, that would be about a million car fires a year, and about a thousand fatalities. So Musk’s numbers are plausible.

    The better comparison, of course, is not with absolute numbers but rates. Tesla claims that per billion miles driven, petrol cars suffer about 55 fires, Teslas about 5: see https://money.cnn.com/2018/05/17/news/companies/electric-car-fire-risk/index.html, which states

    “The propensity and severity of fires and explosions from … lithium ion battery systems are anticipated to be somewhat comparable to or perhaps slightly less than those for gasoline or diesel vehicular fuels,” according to the results of an in-depth investigation into the relative fire risks of the two types of vehicles conducted by Battelle for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last fall.

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