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?
Nixon has concerns over the dangers that might arise if
an electric car is involved in a serious accident. The online
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
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 wont just be sparks that fly! If you become
part of the circuit, you will certainly know about it! But
that isnt the end of it. Those lithium-iron batteries
offer a good deal of power when theyre neatly tucked under
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
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".