Hurricane Idalia rampaged through Florida recently. Amidst the usual wreckage—crumbled homes and waterlogged streets—a bizarre trend has popped up. Some Teslas, after a good soak in Idalia’s salty floodwaters, are spontaneously combusting.
“Saltwater and lithium-ion batteries? Bad news,” warns the Palm Harbor Fire Department. They’ve witnessed it first-hand. In Pinellas County, as CBS News reported, “at least two Teslas caught fire.” Imagine this: a drenched Tesla being towed… suddenly bursting into flames. That’s not a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, but a real-life cautionary tale from last week.
The department isn’t just throwing shade at Tesla. They’re reportedly warning all electric vehicle (EV) owners. Here’s the deal: if your EV got a bath during the hurricane, relocate it—fast. And we’re not just talking about cars. If you’ve got e-bikes, scooters, or even electric golf carts, pay attention. All these rides come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that don’t mix well with saltwater.
So why the fuss about salt? According to the experts, the salty residue acts like a sneaky conductor between the battery’s cells, sparking potential fires. Though this risk exists for all EVs, larger vehicles like Teslas face bigger threats than your average e-bike, thanks to their chunkier batteries.
Heads up: plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are in the danger zone too, because, yup, they’ve got those same lithium-ion batteries.
Now, Tesla ain’t silent about this. They’ve got a warning: if your EV took a swim, don’t drive it. Instead, play it safe: tow it somewhere at least 50 ft away from anything else that can catch fire and ring up your insurance provider. However, they’re kinda mum on the whole “extra risk from saltwater” bit.
And, just a side note: this isn’t some isolated “only in Florida” thing. EVs have been lighting up (literally) across the nation. Earlier this year, an e-bike store in New York turned into an inferno, thanks to a faulty battery. In fact, New York has seen over 200 battery-related fires in recent times.
The bottom line? If your Tesla (or any other EV) had a salty rendezvous during Hurricane Idalia, be cautious. Remember: better safe than smoky.