How safe are electric cars in a crash?

With the UK Government announcement on 4th February 2020 of "a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK will be brought forward from 2040 to 2035 at the latest", the prospect of a major growth in non fossil fuelled cars is certain. The number of electric cars on UK roads is already an increasing feature with a smaller number of hydrogen fuelled cars. But how safe are these cars in a serious crash?

Posted: 200301
Peter Nixon has concerns over the dangers that might arise if an electric car is involved in a serious accident. The online Which? Conversation website had an interesting item by Dave Evans that looked at how safe electric cars might be in a crash. The responses on the thread on that website item are interesting too.

With a conventional petrol or diesel powered car there is a need to make sure that the un-fused electrical circuit (the main power supply cable from the battery to the starter motor) does not short out because if it were to do so in an accident there is the risk it could create a fire hazard. There is also a need to contain fuel for the same reason.


In a battery powered car the short circuit problem could be much greater. With a Nissan Leaf, for example, it runs at 400V instead of the 12V used by conventional cars. So if that shorts, it won’t just be sparks that fly! If you become part of the circuit, you will certainly know about it!
But that isn’t the end of it. Those lithium-iron batteries offer a good deal of power when they’re neatly tucked under the floor.
But in a crash, if the batteries are damaged, any fluid spilled is highly flammable. And, according to the labs that run the Euro NCAP tests, a fire in these circumstances is pretty much unstoppable. So it would seem an on-site fire tender and a well thought through passenger evacuation plan might be the order of the day when we start testing electric cars.

Hydrogen fuel-cell car put through crash safety tests for first time
In another Which? online news item they reported that Euro NCAP had released its latest crash test results - "the latest Mercedes A-Class, Mazda 6 and Lexus ES were all awarded the full five stars. The Hyundai Nexo, the first hydrogen fuel-cell car to be tested by Euro NCAP, was also awarded five stars".