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Opinion: should you warm the battery of an electric car using a toaster?

Reports of a strange mishap have us wondering. Is a toaster the best way to precondition an EV battery?

Published: 01 Apr 2024

“A serious blunder by an electric vehicle driver has seen their car and a home go up in flames. The EV was destroyed in Denmark after its owner tried to warm its battery using a toaster. Police said they ‘strongly discourage’ people from using the dangerous method to heat power cells...” The Sun, December 2023

Hello everyone. Since destroying my electric car – and a portion of my next-door neighbour’s (who, due to ongoing legal proceedings, I am obliged to refer to only as Mr Q) home – while attempting to heat its batteries with a toaster, I have faced many questions. Questions such as “What the hell were you thinking?” and “Will your car ever stop burning?” and “Your insurance had better cover incinerating half my house, or else I will feed you to my pigs”, which is technically not even a question anyhow!

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There has been much misunderstanding and speculation regarding this inferno-related incident. I wish to douse these flames of speculation, much as – with the benefit of hindsight – I wish I had doused the flames of actual fire as they engulfed my car and also Mr Q’s state of the art home cinema.

I admit using a toaster to precondition a large lithium-ion battery may seem unusual, but it is important to understand it wasn’t a regular toaster. That would be insane. It was a four-slice toaster with optional sandwich cage. Also, I didn’t just stick an empty toaster under my car and repeatedly press the lever. Obviously I was using the toaster to toast crumpets at the same time! There’s a lot of heat wasted in the toasting process, so I thought why not put it to good use? The answer, as it turns out, is because doing so will cause what eyewitnesses called “a bonfire of hatchback”. But let’s look at the positives here. Sure, the blaze may have reduced my car, and indeed Mr Q’s gym and spa complex, to a heap of ashes, but at least the toaster emerged unscathed.

Some people have pointed out that because the battery pack spans much of the floor of an EV, attempting to heat a single toaster-sized section would be ineffectual. I know this! I’m not an idiot! What the media failed to report was the ingenious system of levers and pulleys I had rigged up, enabling me to manoeuvre the toaster under the car to achieve even browning: a system I now realise should not have been constructed of highly flammable rope. Also, to those who ask if I really thought a toaster could generate enough heat to warm an 80kWh battery, I say “What more proof do you need than the charred remains of my EV, and the equally charred remains of my neighbour’s collection of modern art?”

Some might call me foolhardy. It is a matter of court record that Mr Q has called me worse. But this new electric age calls for brave pioneers. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, and, thanks to my research, we now know you cannot increase the cold weather range of a C-segment electric car with a toaster. My wife’s hair straighteners, on the other hand...

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