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

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  1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    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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      Let’s also consider that Musk’s statement wasn’t confined to the USA. Being able to pull car fire stats globally and compare them to Teslas globally would be the proper verification methodology.

      You also would only need to pull cumulative stats from countries until you reached a 1MM count. Obviously, once you surpassed that you validate the spirit of the quote (i.e. don’t care if he’s underestimated with the 1MM).

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      According to https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v19i2.pdf “Each year, from 2014 to 2016, an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States”.

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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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