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Family flee home after their £56,000 Volvo hybrid car bursts into flames while charging on their driveway

April 12, 2018

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dave Ward


Thankfully nobody was hurt:


A family were forced to flee their home after their hybrid car burst into flames while charging on the driveway.

Miles Freeman, 46, from Birmingham, was downstairs with fiance, Tanya Krupenko, 30, at around 10.30pm on Sunday evening, while their three children slept in their beds.

But after hearing the car alarm the couple discovered the £56,000 Volvo Hybrid XC90 engulfed in flames on their driveway, just feet away from the family home.


The £56,000 car was destroyed and caused £3,000 worth of damage to the family home in Birmingham (pictured are Miles Freeman holding baby Savannah, seven months, with fiance Ms Krupenko and their other children Olivia, 5, and Harrison, 5)

The £56,000 car was destroyed and caused £3,000 worth of damage to the family home in Birmingham (pictured are Miles Freeman holding baby Savannah, seven months, with fiance Ms Krupenko and their other children Olivia, 5, and Harrison



Emergency services arrived at the home within five minutes and were able to get the fire under control not before it burnt out the car



Emergency services arrived at the home within five minutes and were able to get the fire under control not before it burnt out the car

Mr Freeman claims he has been unable to get to bottom of how the fire started after buying the ex-demo car from the Johnson’s Volvo dealership, in Solihull, in October, last year

The fire caused damage to the garage and frontage of the house in Alcester Road, where five bedroom homes can cost up to £470,000.

Mr Freeman, who owns a battery recycling company, said: ‘We were making a cup of tea in the kitchen when we heard a noise from the front of the house.

‘But after looking out of the window we couldn’t believe the car was engulfed in flames.

Full story here.


Volvo have already promised to get out of conventional engined cars, with all new cars launched after 2019 to be electric or hybrid. This news will hardly help their new strategy.

  1. Nigel S permalink
    April 12, 2018 1:35 pm

    Reconsider that Polestar order perhaps, disappointing.

    • Adrian permalink
      April 12, 2018 4:08 pm

      This is something my old Defender has never done. One of the few things I admit, but a big one.

      • Nigel S permalink
        April 12, 2018 9:17 pm

        Have you topped up the wiring harness smoke recently?

  2. April 12, 2018 1:58 pm

    Don’t know quite what to say except, perhaps, that you get what you pay for!

  3. April 12, 2018 3:41 pm

    I wonder how many people charge their EV whilst it is sitting in the garage. That’s where I keep my car and my insurance policy stipulates that my car must be kept in my garage overnight. No EV for me thank you very much.

    To spend £56,000 on an EV one must have money to burn (no pun intended), particularly when one can buy a petrol car of the same size for <£20,000.

    • Ian permalink
      April 12, 2018 4:25 pm

      Not necessarily, Phillip. If it’s a company car, he’ll have benefited from a discount paid by you and me and a benefit-in-kind tax break of £000s, also paid by you and me, even if, in real world conditions, his fuel consumption is little better than a Diesel equivalent, if that.

  4. April 12, 2018 3:48 pm

    Aren’t Volvos supposed to be renowned for safety? Maybe smoke detectors and sprinklers could be added to the spec list.

  5. April 12, 2018 3:52 pm

    Remember that hybrid batteries are pretty small compared to full blown EVs. Range as EV a massive 27 miles!
    Think what will happen when a Tesla battery explodes! (800kg). I wouldn’t want to be living within a couple of blocks…

    • Athelstan permalink
      April 12, 2018 4:16 pm


  6. Athelstan permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:24 pm

    “Mr Freeman, who owns a battery recycling company”

    Though I am gladdened to hear that other than wounded pride there were no casualties in this unfortunate episode. Hmm, however, I do find it hard to sympathise with this fellow on so many levels and the whiff of that (above) only boldens the tale His warranty will no doubt cover it, I wonder, will he plump for a new petrol motor next time round?

  7. markl permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:33 pm

    Li-ion batteries have been going up in flames since being introduced. I had one ….. in a vacuum cleaner ….. reach a critical temperature while charging and was lucky enough to catch it in time and get it outside the house. Cell phone, laptop, and vaporizer fires and explosions are not uncommon. Supporters like to point out that more people are killed in car fires from gasoline fires but look at the difference in the volume of ICE vs EV. Think of an apartment garage filled with charging EVs. Tesla has several fire safety features incorporated into their cars but the one that is almost comical if it weren’t so serious and valuable is the voice message telling you to exit the vehicle (due to impending fire hazard). Probably the greatest issue is these fires are most prevalent while charging which is normally done unattended, at night, in the garage, while everyone is sleeping. Li-ion battery safety needs to improve and it probably, hopefully, will.

  8. Roger Graves permalink
    April 12, 2018 5:36 pm

    Boeing had the same problem with the Li-ion batteries in its 787 airliner, which caused the entire fleet to be grounded in its first year of operation. Part of the solution was to add a 185-lb enclosure to the batteries, which rather negated the weight saving they obtained from using Li-ion in the first place.

    I’m not sure if Li-ion can ever be made safe. It strikes me as one of those fundamentally unsafe technologies which needs to be replaced by something else as soon as possible.

  9. Ian Magness permalink
    April 12, 2018 10:16 pm

    As it happens I know a bloke who understands hybrid Volvos. He provided the following:
    “The reason why the car set on fire was because it had no coolant- the hybrids have 2 separate coolant tanks + fans for the engine and for the hybrid battery. People remember to fill up the normal tank but also forget there is one for the battery too. It is a problem with people buying hybrid/electric cars and forgetting that they are very different to normal cars, not knowing how to drive/ maintain them properly. With no coolant, the battery will overheat and explode- and due to the size of it, causes the amount of damage that it did.”
    Apparently, there was an issue with the cooling infrastructure for this particular model, which has been put right in later models.
    Colour me unimpressed! 55 grand of new-ish motor and you have a ticking time bomb unless your knowledge extends to detailed understanding of the complex hybrid systems and how to cool them. If I have understood this correctly, not for me! I’ll stick with old technologies, thank you.

    • markl permalink
      April 12, 2018 11:27 pm

      So it’s not a closed cooling system for the battery in the Volvo? No low coolant warning? I doubt the ‘blokes’ answer (because I’m skeptical, not that he’s intentionally lying).

      • Ian Magness permalink
        April 13, 2018 7:53 am

        Apparently, the fault was with the coolant pipes rupturing on the earliest versions of that car. Yes, however, a warning light should have flagged the issue with the owner, according to “Bloke”, so matters shouldn’t have got to the point they did.
        From my perspective, none of this detracts from the point that there are potential serious new issues with this technology. Like driverless vehicles, it seems they such vehicles have been brought to the public roads at an unhealthy, green-inspired, virtue signalling speed, before potentially life-threatening issues are ironed out. EVs, hybrids and driverless vehicles may we’ll be the future, but I’ll wait a while before taking the plunge. Each to his/her own, however.

  10. April 12, 2018 10:51 pm

    10th July 2017 The Sun
    Smart ForTwo electric car ‘totally destroyed’ and left gutted by flames after it set on fire while charging outside office
    Charging fault outside offside near Chelmsford, Essex causes fire on plugged-in electric car

  11. April 12, 2018 10:56 pm

    Wednesday in New Jersey
    Electric Car fire Engulfs Home
    MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP — A fire that started in a garage quickly engulfed an entire home
    Fire crews were called to the home on Arrowhead Way for an electric car that caught fire the garage just before 9 p.m., Millstone Company

  12. April 12, 2018 11:00 pm

    March 26 California
    The fire dept had a hard time with a death crash Tesla, cos the back split open scattering cells… Tesla came down to sort out more

    • April 14, 2018 8:13 am

      Add to this that water and electricity don’t mix very well… plus water and hot lithium metal explosively produces Hydrogen.

  13. April 13, 2018 7:06 am

    To be fair to the EV, all batteries are at risk of going on fire or even exploding if mistreated.

    I used to be heavily involved in radio control car racing as well as owning numerous other R/C models such as helicopters. I have owned hundreds of NiCd, NiMh and LiPo battery packs over the years and suffered a fair few faulty packs, fires and explosions. In nearly every case it was not the battery at fault.

    I had one pack explode when I accidently selected the wrong charging profile from the presents on my computerised pack charger. A LiPo pack went on fire after suffering a heavy impact in a helo crash and another fire happened when the wiring shorted in a buggy mid-race. I also had several packs distort but thankfully not explode when the charger developed a fault.

    There was often a few years of teething troubles after any new battery type was introduced. I remember going from rugged NiCD’s that could take horrific abuse to NiMH which needed more careful charging regimes to maximise life and power delivery. Then when LiPO was introduced with the benefits of super light weight packs I had to endure a couple of years of fires and explosions.

    From years of experience I have a healthy respect for battery packs, especially those LiPo’s and learnt to always charge them on concrete floors, often inside a fireproof container, well away from anything combustible and would always keep a close eye on them while charging. I also learnt to buy the best quality charging equipment and never use the cheap Chinese made chargers.

    It would seem the full size EV’s are going through the same teething troubles as R/C battery packs did. Sadly the general public seems less aware of the risks and the precautions needed. Especially troubling considering the massive increase in scale and destructive capacity of the battery packs in a full size EV. Having witnessed a Relatively small, 8″ long battery pack explode while charging and scatter debris across a 24′ long workshop I think I’d be parking my EV a long way away from my house while charging it!

    • Ian permalink
      April 13, 2018 8:01 am

      It looks as if this is yet one more issue the buildings and contents insurers will have to consider when assessing prices. When a car insurer asks “Will the car be garaged?” the buyer gets a tick and a reduced premium. Property insurers will surely have to start asking “Is there a garage? Will it be used to park/charge an electric or hybrid vehicle? If YES, please contact your bank manager about the premium I’m about to offer.”

      • Gerry, England permalink
        April 13, 2018 12:51 pm

        Have got a Tesla storage battery in your garage as well?

        Have you got rooftop solar panels that will electrocute firemen if your house catches fire during the day?

  14. mikewaite permalink
    April 13, 2018 7:54 am

    Do insurance policies for electric cars reflect this small but not impossible possibility for fire whilst charging and is there any impact on house insurance, given that EVs will have to be charged close to the domestic supply? (I had hoped, if DVLA allow me to continue driving after 70 and if downsizing releases some cash, to purchase ,say, a Leaf , but this has definitely put me off).

    • Ian permalink
      April 13, 2018 8:02 am

      Great (?) minds think alike, Mike?

    • April 13, 2018 9:52 am

      Depreciation on electric cars will be severe, mainly due to battery life uncertainties. Leasing may be a better bet.

      • Gamecock permalink
        April 16, 2018 12:15 am

        Bottom end cars like the Nissan Leaf have CATASTROPHIC depreciation. The last time I checked it, the Leaf lost 64% of its value in two years. A new one cost 30,000, value of a two year old one was 11,000. I don’t think battery uncertainty fully explains it, as Tesla’s retain their value quite well.

    • Nigel S permalink
      April 13, 2018 12:03 pm

      Buy a simple second hand petrol car (Fiat Panda say). The widows and orphans will thank you for not increasing the price of their electricty and as a bonus you’ll be able to keep warm on winter journeys.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 13, 2018 12:53 pm

      What about increased claims when your battery incinerates other drivers in a crash? Or electrocutes them or the emergency services? Perhaps they should carry warning signs like vehicles carrying gas or explosives so that the emergency services can know to stand well back and let them burn.

  15. Bill permalink
    April 13, 2018 9:49 am

    Fake news and here’s why its fake news.
    The event happened on Sunday and by the following Wednesday an insurance assessor had been round and decided “there was £3,000 of damage to the family home”.
    Did it burn or did it explode?
    The charging socket cover from the car is on the deck positioned as though it just dropped off without any burn damage which suggest fire melted a plastic hinge but if the hinge is steel how could that cover drop.
    If there was an explosion how did the cover end up where it did?
    Fire and or explosion and yet the plastic dustbin between the fence and the cars front end didn’t melt.
    Look at the magic paint Volvo puts on their passenger doors. It doesn’t even char whereas the wing.
    What are the chances of this chap owning a battery recycling company and suffering such a horrific battery fire right on his doorstep?
    Wouldn’t it be much more tax efficient to have the battery charging point at his business and have the Volvo charging on the company electricity account whilst he was in work?
    He said “My first reaction was to get the car away from the house but the flames were well above the bonnet,” again why didn’t the plastic bin melt?
    He also said “‘The outcome of this could have been disastrous and we were very lucky that the smoke didn’t get into the house to cause any damage.” Blimey £3,000 on a new garage door and side window replacement is a bit steep. And what prevented the smoke getting in when the window panes broke?
    Has anyone seen a car catch fire and how much choking smoke is generated by burning plastic, its an incredible thing to see not to mention noisy as the windows explode yet again volvo fit their cars with magic glass windscreens but sadly the passenger door only got magic paint and normal glass in its window.

    • April 13, 2018 10:09 am

      The wings may well be plastic whereas the doors will be steel which could explain the stark difference in apparent damage between adjacent panels? Also the fire brigade may have moved bonnet etc when dealing with it so you can’t be certain that how it looks for the photo is how it would have been at the time of the fire.

      However, I get your point regards seemingly excessive cost of damage to house.

      • Bill permalink
        April 13, 2018 12:42 pm

        The bonnet is made from aluminum as are the wings.

        Here is a video of burning volvo cars. First and last look like XC90’s

        Firemen do not flip the bonnet presumably as they are way to hot nd likle as not the bonnet hinges will be distorted by the heat.

        Amazing burning for five minutes and it did no damage to the tree above not even setting it on fire even though it is a conifer which are easily set on fire, nor melt that bin, nor damage the paint on the door or charging cover.

        The point about the insurance assessor is they do not ‘come out to the scene’ that quickly and certainly do not provide an on the spot assessment of the cost of the damage. They work for the insurer not the insured.

  16. April 13, 2018 10:58 am

    “As part of the overall plan to address the need for reduced CO2 emissions and nitrogen dioxide pollution the Government wishes to encourage a greater uptake of more environmentally friendly vehicles, including vans most of which are diesel-fuelled.

    However, the cleaner power onboard hardware may increase a vehicle’s weight that in turn reduces goods carrying capacity (payload).

    To incentivise the use of alternatively-fuelled vehicles and remove the advantage of using traditional fuel (i.e. the gain of a greater payload) the proposal is to raise the threshold for a Category B licence that is currently set at 3.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass or ‘mam’.

    In short the intention is that drivers with Category B driving licences will be able to drive vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes – but only if they are alternatively-fuelled.”

    • Nigel S permalink
      April 13, 2018 11:45 am

      We geriatrics who passed before 1997 can continue to charge about in 7.5 tonners for a while yet.

    • April 13, 2018 3:59 pm

      The Tesla 800kg battery is about equivalent to ten passengers: You are basically driving a full minibus around, before anyone even gets in! Fossil fuel for the same range (200 miles) weighs 20kg.

  17. Gerry, England permalink
    April 13, 2018 1:02 pm

    Imagine the newstorm had somebody died.

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