EMP Attack: Frequently Asked Questions

Will batteries be damaged by an EMP attack?
Typical batteries will not be harmed by an EMP.

Will vehicles work after an EMP attack?
Probably. The best public study of this was done by the United States EMP Commission. Commission staff did limited testing on 37 cars and 18 trucks (including diesel-powered tractors).

  • EMPs up to 50 kV/m had no effect on vehicles that were not running.
  • Some vehicles worked fine even when running. 20% of the cars and 27% of the trucks were immune up to 50 kV/m.
  • The commission estimated that 10% of cars will stall at EMP strengths above 25 kV/m.
    The staff estimates that 15% of trucks will stall above 12 kV/m.
    Some of these vehicles will not restart.

The difficulty with the test is that the EMP Commission did not have enough money to buy the cars. They had to borrow them from government agencies and the military and promise to repair any damage. To prevent permanent damage, the testers stopped when they saw any level of signs of trouble in the vehicles.

As a result, the test proved that non-running vehicles are practically immune from EMP attack. They also proved that 20% to 27% of running vehicles will do fine. The rest of the vehicles, however, never received a full test.

The commission also did not test release details in the unclassified report. We do not know details on the vehicles tested or at what level they started to show problems, terminating their testing.

"Widespread functional collapse of the electric power system
in the area affected by EMP is likely."

US EMP Commission's Report to Congress, Volume 1: Executive Report