The electric car driver turned away from the hospital parking lot

The electric car driver turned away from the hospital parking lot

A father who took his son to Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool said he was turned away from a car park for driving an electric vehicle (EV).

Paul Freeman-Powell said he was told to park on the grass side nearby because his car “could explode.”

The hospital said it had temporarily banned access to the car park while it improved its sprinkler system.

But industry figures have challenged that decision, pointing to research that shows gasoline cars are more likely to catch fire than EVs.

Mr Freeman-Powell told the BBC he tried to tell the security guard he spoke to that the hospital’s policy made no sense.

But he said he eventually agreed because he didn’t want his seven-year-old son to miss the appointment he had been waiting for for nearly five years.

In a statement released to the BBC, Alder Hey hospital said following advice from Merseyside Fire and Rescue it had “temporarily restricted the parking of electric vehicles in one of our smaller car parks while we upgrade its sprinkler system.”

“Electric vehicles can still park in our main Hospital car park”, it continued, pointing out that it also has 14 spaces with EV charging points.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue has been contacted for comment.

‘Incorrect information’
Mr Freeman-Powell shared a photo of a sign at the entrance to the car park that read “no electric vehicles” on X, previously Twitter.

Fair Charge, the campaign group for electric vehicles, described it as “misinformation that wrongly shapes public policy”.

Its founder, motoring journalist Quentin Willson, said “for the NHS to ban electric cars from parking lots is dramatically at odds with the clean air and health benefits of zero tailpipe emissions.”

Colin Walker, head of transport at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit research group, agreed that the evidence did not support the hospital’s position.

“Data from EV FireSafe, which is supported by the Australian Government, shows that petrol cars are more than 80 times more likely to catch fire than EVs,” he told the BBC.

He also highlighted a report released last year from the Swedish Public Emergency Agency which found that in 2022 there will be an average of 3.8 fires per 100,000 electric and hybrid cars, and 68 fires per 100,000 cars from all types of fuel, with this figure including combustion.

“It is important for drivers to understand the relative risk”, said Mr Walker,

He also pointed out that the recent car fire that shut down Luton Airport was started by a diesel fueled vehicle, not electric as some early reports claimed.

Sales of electric cars have slowed this year, comprising just 15% of new cars registered in the UK in March 2024, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

US EV maker Tesla reported a drop in revenue for the first time since 2021, and has cut jobs, with co-founder Elon Musk saying the firm should be “really tough” about cutting costs.

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