Tesla. General Motors. Two titans of the American automotive industry, each with their own approaches to design and engineering, but with one key similarity: Fires. Between Model Ses burning up after a crash, or the endless string of fire-related recalls for the Bolt, U.S.-based manufacturers are constantly innovating in the field of “cars that want to barbecue you.” We’ve had cars that explode after crashes, cars that detonate in garages, and cars that seem to go up in flames for no clear reason at all — what’s more American Exceptionalism than that?
But now, I fear, new companies loom large in this most important of areas. Automakers from abroad are swooping in, creating new forms of EV fires that our engineers hadn’t even considered developing. Our American incendiaries face unexpectedly strong foreign competition, bringing new ideas to the world of exploding cars. Most recently, a shocking disruption from Chinese automaker IAT: a car that self-immolates right on the auto show floor.
At the 2022 Guangzhou Auto Show two weeks ago, a concept vehicle from IAT Automobile Technology Co. went up in flames after an apparent issue with externally supplied power. The company, in a statement after the fire, claimed that “the logistics personnel turned on the external power switch accidentally, which caused an electrical short circuit and fire.” Despite the size of the blaze, no one appears to have been injured. The show, as expected, went on — just without IAT’s compact hatchback.
While it’s true the car relied on an outside power source for its ignition, this is a major blow from Chinese automakers towards our American stalwarts. To think that their fire technology is this advanced, this close in capability to our bests — the flame gap is closing fast.
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We may have the lead for now, our advances in EV fire technology remain unimpeached, but make no mistake: those times could be coming to an end. These new developments should have American automakers on edge — their immolative superiority may not last for to much longer.