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Over Concerns Of Lithium Ion Fires

2023 2024 C8 Corvette E-Ray hybrid AWD supercar Daytona Rolex 24 International Speedway Chevrolet
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

The new C8 Corvette E-Ray has plenty of exciting features, one being the all-wheel-drive, which enables it to be more of a year-round car rather than something only driven during the year’s warm months. It’s also just a millisecond faster than the Z06, thanks to its AWD, which adds some traction during a launch down a track. Unfortunately, if you’ve recently purchased a new Corvette E-Ray, you won’t be welcomed on the racetrack as the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC) have recently updated its 2022-2023 competition rulebook, and one of the updates is a ban to all EVs and hybrid vehicles from all track competitions.

By the way, the 2024 Corvette E-Ray isn’t even out yet.

2024 C8 Corvette E-Ray supercar hybrid all wheel drive Chevrolet

NCCC C8 Corvette E-Ray Track Ban: Details

The rules state that people won’t even be allowed to park the Corvette E-Ray near the track, buildings, or other cars. Unfortunately, according to Corvette Forum, the NCCC isn’t alone, as Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia has also decided to ban electric vehicles and hybrids. It’s unclear how long this ban will last, but it’s probably best to stick to a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle for the foreseeable future if you’re a track junkie.

The ban is due to the fact that most EVs and hybrids today use lithium-ion batteries. If a component fails with the battery or is damaged during a crash, this can cause a fire. If you’ve seen The Grand Tour, you’ll know that a high-voltage battery fire poses additional risks than a traditional gasoline fire. The battery’s damaged cells can experience uncontrolled temperature and pressure increases, called thermal runaway. These fires burn much hotter than conventional vehicle fires, which can be put out with fairly standard fire suppression equipment. Not so with lithium fires, which can even reignite after the flames have been put out, and everyone thought the condition was under control. In addition to this, electric shock is also a risk when dealing with these types of issues.

In short, lithium-ion battery fires require specific equipment and training to put them out. And that doesn’t appear to be something that car clubs and race tracks are all too ready to invest in at this juncture. While some of the more evangelical publications out there are currently wagging their fingers at such a decision, further obfuscating the matter with cherry-picked statistics, it doesn’t change that lithium-ion vehicle fires need to be treated differently than more typical vehicle fires.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a statement a few years ago highlighting the risks with these vehicles. We all know that pushing cars to high speeds on a racetrack causes significant heat for a vehicle, and the risk is only increased. We can expect to see more bans on EVs and hybrids by racetracks. Though, as EVs and hybrids become more common, there will be improvements to safety when dealing with these vehicles, which will likely lead to lifting of these bans. Though, it’s unclear when that time will come.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray Logo
Image via Chevrolet

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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