What Happens If An Electric Car Is Struck By Lightning?

To put it simply, if an electric car is struck by lightning, the car should be safe. However, the answer isn’t as simple as that for every single electric car.

If lightning were to strike while you are inside the car, you are relatively insulated from the bolt’s electricity. But, the electrical systems and sensitive electronics within the car may not be as fortunate, with the potential for damage that could affect the vehicle’s functionality.

EVs are engineered with safety features to handle lightning strikes, similar to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Like their counterparts, electric cars have a metal frame that can act as a Faraday cage, directing the electricity around the occupants and toward the ground.

Lightning strikes are a valid concern, given the combination of high-voltage batteries and electric systems present in all types of electric vehicles.

While lightning strikes on vehicles are rare, the possibility exists, and understanding the implications for electric cars is important for both safety and peace of mind.

The Science of Lightning and Vehicles

Basics of Lightning and Its Effects on Objects

Lightning is a massive electricity discharge in the atmosphere. When it strikes, it seeks a path to the ground, often finding its way through conductive materials. 

Cars made of metal can act as conductors, allowing the energy of the lightning to transfer through them. The intense current and heat can cause damage to the electrical system and electronic components.

Faraday Cage Principle and Electric Cars

Faraday cage is an enclosure formed by conductive material that can shield the interior from external electric fields and charges. In the context of vehicles:

  • Electric cars, enclosed by metallic frames, essentially function as a Faraday cage.
  • During a lightning strike, the energy tends to remain on the exterior of the vehicle, protecting the occupants inside.

Metal bodies of cars distribute the lightning’s charge around the outer shell, directing it safely to the ground.

As such, the internal components, including the electric motor and electronic components, are often safeguarded from the direct effects of lightning.

However, the protection provided by a Faraday cage is not absolute, and some induced currents may affect the electrical system.

Impacts of Lightning on Electric Vehicle Systems

When lightning strikes, your electric car’s advanced systems are at risk, particularly the batteries and electronic components.

Let’s explore the specific impacts such a powerful event might have on the various electrical systems within your vehicle.

Effect on Batteries and Charging Systems

If lightning hits while an electric car is charging, the resulting power surge can travel through the charging system, potentially damaging both the charging equipment and the car’s batteries.

It’s possible for a lightning strike to overwhelm the car’s circuitry and cause significant issues with the battery system, which is crucial for the operation and range of your vehicle.

Some protective measures, like surge protectors in the charging equipment, are designed to mitigate such risks, but it’s important to understand that high-voltage events could still have a damaging effect.

Consequences for Electronic Components and Electric Motors

The electronic components in your electric car are sensitive to electrical disturbances caused by a lightning strike.

power surge can lead to the malfunction of the electronic circuitry that governs everything from your dashboard interfaces to the vehicle’s safety systems.

Any surge system can fail, and this is because these protective systems are only designed to withstand surges of up to 2500 V.

Lightning strikes, however, can be far stronger than that (up to 20 times, in fact), which means there is always a risk of a lightning strike overpowering even the strongest surge protection systems. 

Additionally, the electric motor, which propels your car, relies on precise electronic controls that could become erratic or cease functioning if impacted by a lightning-induced surge.

This can lead to a complete system breakdown, leaving you potentially stranded or in need of costly repairs.

Practical Guidance During Thunderstorms

During a thunderstorm, your safety and the integrity of your electric car’s charging setup are paramount. Here’s how to navigate these electrifying scenarios wisely.

Precautions While Charging

When a thunderstorm is forecast, consider the safety features of the charging stations and the protective measures for your electric car. Follow these steps:

🔌 Unplug your vehicle from the charging port to prevent possible electrical surge damage.

🌩️ Avoid starting to charge if a storm is imminent; lightning can affect electric systems even at charging stations.

Actions if Struck by Lightning

If your electric car is struck by lightning while you’re inside, remain calm and observe these procedures:

  1. Stay inside the vehicle—your car acts as a Faraday cage, offering you protection.
  2. Once it’s safe, check your car for any damages, particularly to the electric car’s charging systems.
  3. Get your car inspected at an authorized service center, even if no immediate damage is evident.

Safety and Vulnerability of Electric Cars

EVs are equipped with safety mechanisms to handle lightning strikes, but there are also precautions you should take.

Electric Cars in Thunderstorms

Driving during a thunderstorm may raise concerns about safety. EVs use a Faraday cage design to reduce electrocution risks by diverting electrical energy away from occupants.

Being in any vehicle during a thunderstorm poses risks, primarily due to diminished visibility and control from heavy rain.

Although driving an EV in a thunderstorm is relatively safe, precautions such as keeping windows up and avoiding contact with metallic components.

It’s advisable to delay driving until after the storm since high-voltage lightning strikes (while rare) can still potentially damage the electrical system or cause a fire.

Comparative Safety: Electric vs Gas-Powered Vehicles

Electric cars are not at a higher risk during a thunderstorm. Both types of vehicles offer a comparable level of safety from lightning.

Trucks and cars alike, whether electric or gas-powered, act as a conductive shell that disperses electricity away from the interior.

In terms of fire risk after a lightning strike, electric cars have a similar safety profile to gas-powered ones.

The batteries in electric cars are well-protected, and the likelihood of fire or electrocution from a direct hit is low for both electric and conventional vehicles.

Nonetheless, it’s important to maintain your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for driving in adverse weather conditions to ensure the highest degree of safety.

Insurance Considerations

When your electric car is struck by lightning, your first concern might be the potential cost of any repairs. Here’s what you should know about insurance coverage:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: This is the key component of your insurance policy that typically covers lightning damage. Damage from natural events, like lightning strikes, generally falls under this type of insurance.
  • Policy Details: Make sure to review your policy specifics. Some comprehensive plans might cover related electrical surge damages that can occur due to lightning.

To ensure your claim is processed smoothly:

  1. Document the incident—Take photos of the damage for record-keeping.
  2. File promptly—Contact your insurer as soon as possible to start the claim process.
  3. Keep all receipts—If you need a tow or immediate repairs to prevent further damage, retain this proof of payment.

⚠️ Remember: Policies can vary, so check if there are any specific stipulations or exclusions regarding electric vehicles and lightning strikes.

It’s also prudent to confirm if anything changes when the car is charging during a storm.

Being well-informed about your policy’s reach and limitations ensures you’re prepared for such unpredictable incidents.


  1. I live and work on a coastal mountain ridge famous for severe lightning storms and have been hit, and the surge killed my battery. So I have been trying to get these questions answered by Ford:
    #1: Does the 2023 eTransit also have a regular key for backup and /or mechanical door locks, in case all electrical functions fail?
    #2 Or a physical Emergency brake?
    #3 Or a mechanical steering back up?

    If not, I fear that the surge of a lightning strike to the vehicle or to a closeby roadside pole could render the all electronic eTransit I ordered without steering, brakes, nor any way to exit the vehicle.

    1. Let me break down what I found about the 2023 Ford eTransit:

      Backup Key & Mechanical Door Locks: Good news here! The eTransit comes with a smart key system. But in case all the electronics decide to take a day off, you’ve got a backup. There’s a mechanical key blade tucked away inside the Intelligent Access key. This can be used to unlock the driver’s door manually if the electrical system goes kaput​​​​.

      Physical Emergency Brake: Now, about the emergency brake situation, I couldn’t dig up specific info for the eTransit. But it’s pretty standard for modern vehicles, including electric ones, to have some sort of emergency brake system. It’s a safety must-have, right? For the details, you might want to flick through the eTransit’s manual or chat with your local Ford dealer.

      Mechanical Steering Backup: As for the steering backup, it’s a bit like the emergency brake – no specific details that I could find. But typically, modern cars have safety features for steering in case you lose power. Again, for the exact features of the eTransit, the owner’s manual or a Ford dealership would be your go-to sources.

      In short, for your main worry about getting stuck with no steering, brakes, or way out after a lightning strike – the eTransit does have a mechanical key option for door unlocking. For the brakes and steering, it’s best to confirm directly with Ford or check out the vehicle’s manual.

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