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Car parks - charging stations of the future or fire source?

Everyone should drive electric cars. But when it comes to mastering everyday life, electric cars still often reach their limits. This is largely due to the infrastructure, which is still in its infancy in many places. Parking garages with charging functions promise a solution. But what happens if a car catches fire there?

Berlin is planning a zero-emission zone (ZEZ) by 2030, by which time only zero-emission vehicles will be allowed to drive within the S-Bahn ring. Berlin's environmental senator Günther from the Green Party is aiming for an even earlier deadline. After 2030, the whole of Berlin is to become a zero-emission zone. Because of the lack of charging infrastructure, people are now feverishly considering how to charge the many new electric vehicles conveniently and quickly. After all, a decision to buy an electric vehicle depends above all on the quality of the charging infrastructure.

A new project called iLa-Park, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, wants to set up electric charging stations in multi-storey car parks. Via an online portal, drivers can then see where there is a free charging spot and how much time they have to allow for charging. But the project has a catch: burning vehicles with electric batteries are more difficult to extinguish.

Electric vehicles do not catch fire more often than internal combustion vehicles, but they are much more difficult to extinguish because the batteries are installed much deeper in the car. There, the extinguishing water or foam reaches the battery much later, sometimes not at all. So it happens that the fire brigade simply lets an electric vehicle burn out of necessity. However, this is difficult to do in a multi-storey car park, especially as the fire can quickly spread to other vehicles. To avoid this, the burning vehicle is usually pulled away from cars parked next to it to prevent the flames from spreading. But pulling away is extremely difficult in a multi-storey car park. The city of Kulmbach in Upper Franconia has therefore even decided to no longer allow electric vehicles into multi-storey car parks.

Another problem is the loss of parking spaces in multi-storey car parks. Many cars then have to look for a space on the street again. But in Berlin's planned zero-emissions zone, other measures are also being considered. Above all, there are plans for good public transport connections to the inner city districts, several Park&Ride stations, car sharing and many stations where you can rent or borrow a bicycle for the trip into the city. So there is no lack of ideas. However, as we can see, there is still a crucial lack of implementation and suitability for everyday use.