That Smart Electric-Car Fire? Never Mind; It's Not Electric At All

Follow Antony

2013 Smart ForTwo Iceshine Special Edition

2013 Smart ForTwo Iceshine Special Edition

Enlarge Photo

Our hearts sink a little every time we discover news of an electric car fire.

Will others also go up in flames? Will the media turn it into an anti-EV frenzy, like they did with the Chevy Volt?

Reports of an electric Smart ForTwo going up in flames at a home in Florida brought all those thoughts flooding back.

Except, in this case, the car wasn't electric.

According to news-press, a fire in the garage of a home in Estero, Florida, was believed to have been started by either an electric car charger, or on-board an electric car itself.

The fire caused $200,000 in damage to the $500,000 home, though luckily nobody was injured. The garage and its contents, including a Smart ForTwo and a battery charger, was destroyed.

Fire department spokeswoman Susan Lindenmuth described the incident as very rare, but as of Tuesday, no exact cause of the fire had been determined.

Not an electric car...

However, it now appears that not only did the Smart itself not start the blaze, but the vehicle in question was a regular, gasoline-powered model.

Estero-based Edward Ellyatt, member on the BMW ActiveE Facebook group, reveals that it wasn't even an electric car charger that started the fire.

"It was a part time resident who left a battery charger on his lead acid start battery so his battery would not be dead when he returned for tourist season."

So while the fire did involve a Smart car and a battery, initial suspicions that it was an electric vehicle seem to be unfounded--which goes to show just how volatile electric car news can be right now.

And for those dreading further news of electric car fires... you can start breathing again.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (12)
  1. It's still the Volt's fault. I mean the fault of Government Motors. I mean, of Obama, etc...

    C'mon, Antony, you're fanning the flames... LOL! Not really, the haters will hate and you've been rational, and even used facts, of course. But who listens to facts anymore...? I had a guy ask me the other day how many times my Volt has been on fire... Yet he didn't seem to enjoy being corrected or asked about fires in ICE vehicles... Go figure!

  2. I think it's YOUR fault!

  3. It probably is... If I knew how, I'd somehow paint the inside of my Volt so it would look from the outside like the Volt were on fire... Other than the daily fires, though, it's a great car...

  4. Ummmmm...alot of people on this website (authors included) show flagrant disregard of facts. Enlighten me as to how many auto fires are caused by the engine of an ICE. Smoking while filling it up at the gas station or dropping a joint while passing it to the back seat DON'T count as legitimate causes for setting a car on fire.

  5. @Randall: Please point out where this site's authors say internal-combustion engines are the only source for the 250,000 fires a year in those cars.

    There are many diverse causes for those fires. Some have nothing to do with the car--as in Smart case in the article above, where an external problem started the fire.

    In others, faulty engine components fail (Jaguar fuel-injection piping & Ford cruise controls, to name two). Relatively few are caused by smoking, as in your example; carmakers use fire-resistant interior materials for that reason.

    Some fires are caused by accidents, though unlike the movies, not every car explodes in a fireball when hit.

    Don't know about gas-station fires.

  6. "Some fires are caused by accidents, though unlike the movies, not every car explodes in a fireball when hit." How can you be certain of this? Could you be the victim of an urban legend? No sources cited, must be a suspect conclusion and matter of personal opinion.


  7. The ICE as we know it has been around for well over 100 years. The causes of auto fires have been ironed out. Electric cars such as the Volt are still in their infancy. Hypersensitivity toward accidents possibly related to unfamiliar technology is natural and needed.

  8. I'd venture that the only thing worse than hypersensitivity is willful ignorance, right Randall? The causes of auto fires have been "ironed out." Really, is that why there are still over 250k annual vehicle fires even today?

    Sources: National Fire Protection Association, from 2003-07 averaged 287k fires annually and 480 deaths. But in your world, fires don't count in ICE vehicles unless you can prove it's due only to the engine... I'm not sure how you've missed the point, repeatedly, but the fact is that while electric vehicles are often blamed for vehicle fires immediately, the fact is there remains the same problem, if not worse, with ICE vehicles.

    And what unfounded statement did I make, that ICE vehicles also have fires? Fact.

  9. Posting statistics without citing any source or leaving out tiny little details is a staple on this website. robuk2 made an unfounded statement, and I simply wanted him to own up to it. This whole article points out a situation where someone left out a tiny little detail (charging a standard car battery rather than charging an electric car) and (probably deliberately) got the entire article wrong. It was an electrical fire, but not an electrical fire caused by charging up an electric car.

    This article reeks of "the pot calling the kettle black" as far as screwing up tiny little details to make a point.

  10. Great to see Green Car Reports getting the facts right. Hard to believe some other sites reporting the vehicle as a Smart TwoFor, which won't even be on sale till spring 2013.

  11. "Smart TwoFor, which won't even be on sale till spring 2013" ???

    Some times it is difficult to aggregate all of the facts, sources, and interesting prose on a tight deadline.

  12. @Brian, @Jeff: Not entirely sure what Brian meant here.

    But I think the car he's trying to describe is the latest electric version of the Smart ForTwo, known as the 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive or ED3 for short (because it's the third generation electric version).

    This is our article on that car, which goes on sale next spring:
    along with a comparison to the previous generation:

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.