Safety is one key element to ensure the success of electric cars. Future buyers want to be sure that electric cars have the same safety level as conventional cars before driving them. Some electric cars manufacturers have already heard the message and started to publish results and videos of their crash tests.
Among the many manufacturers that will launch electric cars this year, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Gordon Murray Design already publicly released the results of their electric vehicles crash tests, and Volvo has even displayed an after-crash-test C30 electric at the Detroit Motor Show to make people confident regarding the safety question.
New components, new safety issues
Volvo Safety Centre ran a frontal collision test at 40 mph (64 km/h) on its C30 Electric and highlights in its results that specific electric car components like batteries, electric motor and cables have been analysed and both the batteries and the cables that are part of the electric system remained entirely intact after the collision. To obtain these results, the lithium-ion batteries need to be separated from the car’s crumple zones and the passenger compartment, which poses a safety challenge of being able to fit the heavy battery pack – 600 lb (300 kg) in the Volvo C30 Electric – in a limited space. “The C30 Electric offers the very same high safety level as a C30 with a combustion engine” concluded Jan Ivarsson, Senior Manager Safety Strategy & requirements at Volvo Cars.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which was tested by the German auto club ADAC had, after front crash tests, its battery pack undamaged and its high-voltage power systems automatically switched off by its safety system, removing any risk to emergency responders. Another crash test with a 3,000-pound weight slammed into the rear of the i-MiEV at 50 mph (80 km/h) had the same results.
Small urban electric cars are likely to represent a big part of the EV market. MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) carried out a crash test on a T.27, consisting of a mandatory EEC 40 per cent offset deformable barrier front high speed impact. The results are zero cabin intrusion, made possible with a composite monocoque structure – already existing in Formula One – with significantly higher specific energy absorption rates compared with conventional cars.