VW ID.3 Burns to the Ground in the Netherlands: Cause Is Still Unknown

Of all the electric vehicles on the market so far, the VW ID.3 was one of the few that did not present any fire episode. That ended on August 14 when one of these EVs burned to the ground in Groningen, in the Netherlands.
Volkswagen ID.3 Catches Fire in Groningen 1 photo
Photo: Volkswagen/Fir0002-Creative Commons
The Meternieuws YouTube channel video description states the owner of this ID.3 had just disconnected her car from a public charger. After she placed her 3-year-old son in the car and moved to the driver’s seat, she noticed smoke coming underneath it. We discovered that the ID.3 owner was Mariska Steenmeijer-Van Nijen thanks to RTV Noord.

The Dutch article also revealed that she had left her car charging overnight. Luckily, the ID.3 owner had time to take her 3-year-old son from the vehicle before the flames started to erupt. Despite her quickly warning the firefighters, they did not have time to save the car, which was destroyed by the blaze.

A white first-generation Nissan Leaf that was charging right behind the Volkswagen seemed to have been lightly affected. However, the firefighters had to open its bonnet and throw water inside that compartment. We have no idea if the Nissan can still be repaired.

There’s no word on any of the sources we mentioned about the fire investigations. We have contacted Volkswagen to ask if it was aware of the fire and the company said is still investigating what happened. The automaker confirmed this is the first case involving the vehicle, which already has about 100,000 units in European streets.

Considering how long similar investigations have taken, we would not expect that they have any answer anytime soon. We will try to get in touch with the Groningen police to learn more about the circumstances of the incident.

Spontaneous fires such as this one may be related to multiple causes, such as a short circuit. Another possibility is a thermal runaway issue with the battery pack, such as the ones that caused the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Kona Electric recent recalls. Both vehicles use cells from the same Volkswagen ID.3  supplier: LGES (LG Energy Solution).

The batteries for the Volkswagen are made in Poland and shipped to Brunswick, where Volkswagen Group Components assembles the battery pack and sends it to the Zwickau plant. The cells that had manufacturing issues in the Kona Electric's case were made in Nanjing, China, but a Kona Electric made in Europe recently caught fire in Norway. The batteries on the Chevrolet Bolt EV were made in South Korea.

Some people who watched the video said that it was apparently too easy to put the fire out, which would exempt the LG Energy Solution cells from blame in this case. Fires in the battery pack indeed demand lots of water to cool it down. However, we don't know how long the fire lasted nor if the video was edited for the whole situation to look shorter than it actually was. Summing up, it is too soon to have any idea of what caused the fire. The answers will only come with an extensive investigation. May it be faster than the ones that involved the Kona Electric and the Bolt EV.

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Editor's note: Volkswagen got in touch to answer our questions about the fire. The text has been edited to include the company's explanations.

About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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