TechTalk DC

Published on July 21st, 2023 | by Sounder Rajen


Why DC Chargers Can’t Be Installed In Underground Car Parks

Will the lack of underground DC chargers slow down EV adoption?

Okay, while electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular all over the world, we here in Malaysia seem to face one small problem that is not allowing us to adopt EV as fast. Well, maybe we have more than just one problem, but for sure, the main issue a lot of people will cite is a lack of EV charging infrastructure. Why is that though?


Moreover, EVs simply cannot compete with more traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in terms of range and there are multiple petrol stations all over the country but there are few EV chargers and since DC chargers charge EVs faster so it seems that underground DC chargers would be a simple solution, right? Wrong.

See while a DC charger being installed underground in parking lots seems like a no brainer, unfortunately it is not that easy since having DC chargers installed underground is actually a safety risk. Yes, indeed, having an underground DC charger is a fire risk. Why is that?

Well, batteries inside EVs fail and burn very differently compared to ICE vehicles as they go through a process called thermal runaway which can cause the production of heat and oxygen as well as flammable and toxic gasses. This then spreads to adjacent cells causing potential rapid fire growth or explosion.

On top of that, we know that most EV batteries are prone to catching fire in extreme heat and when you consider how hot it gets in underground car parks in Malaysia and add to that the sheer amount of flammable plastic materials found all over and you have a recipe for disaster.

EV Charging Cornerstone Technologies

What’s more, with American automaker Tesla just launching in Malaysia yesterday, the brand added a few of its signature Superchargers in the underground parking lot at Pavilion. So is this a fire hazard now? No because, Tesla used AC chargers in these Superchargers so this means they are safe.

To keep things simple, we simply need to remember that we should only install AC chargers underground and in car parks and DC chargers are only safe in open air spaces. Will this hinder EV adoption in Malaysia? Who knows, many brands aside from Tesla are also actively building EV chargers so only time will tell.

We got all this from Forsknings rapport, the RSA Group and the National Fire Protection Association. Thank you for the information.

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