How safe are electric cars?
As with any new technology, EVs have had a fair share of doubts, apprehensions and scrutiny. Sometimes, even rumours. There is certainly some anxiety amongst a few people, about the safety of electric vehicles. While there have been some causes of concern, it is important to look through the smoke, at facts. EVs do come with their own set of unique problems, the solutions to many of which have been found with the help of extensive R&D and expertise employed at OEMs, that keep improving EV technology, day after day.
Here's a look at some safety features of EVs, and answers to some common questions that you may have. As your reliable car leasing mobility partners, we're here to help you figure if EVs are the right fit for you, and if they are indeed safe enough. Let's dive in!
Build and structural integrity
While both cars look pretty much the same, structural differences between EVs and their fuel-powered variants differ from model to model. Some cars from the affordable EV category, like the Tata Nexon EV, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq, the Kona Electric or even the MG ZS EV are a lot closer to their traditionally ICE models. The electric motor is placed at the front where the combustion engine usually goes, and the battery goes in place of the fuel tank. You can say they have the same body and backbone. Some premium electric vehicles like Tesla, Jaguar, and others are designing their models with a different philosophy. The idea is to build the battery pack as a structural part of the platform of the vehicle. As a result, the centre of gravity is low. Hence, it’s very unlikely to roll over comparatively. This design is referred to as the ‘skateboard’. This kind of structure increases the 'crumple zone' or the part that absorbs the impact of a crash, making EVs a lot safer than ICEs in this regard.
Safety in event of a crash
Every EV is built based on certain manufacturing and safety regulations and undergoes extensive testing. Every country has a set of mandatory safety tests, that help make the machinery as safe as possible.
Fundamentally, lithium-ion batteries used in EVs are the safest technologies available today, if used with proper risk management. But haven't there been instances of random, spontaneous EV fires? Well, yes and no. While there have been reports of EV fires, it is highly unlikely that Li-ion battery fires are never spontaneous. The underlying cause is usually physical damage, such as in a car crash, or that the batteries have exceeded their safe operating temperature. Both these potential risks have been addressed in most EVs.
EV batteries are protected in a crash-resistant, tamper-proof structure. To add a layer of safety, EVs have a system that automatically disconnects the battery during crashes. There are multiple sensors that detect a collision, and the special pyro fuses are triggered to cut the connection from high voltage cables. This process takes place within milliseconds.
German automotive expert Bosch introduced a system to protect the battery. When the airbag is triggered a small wedge drives into the connecting cables and cuts all high voltage connections to the battery. This system keeps the battery safe, in event of a crash. If the car faces a major accident that induces a fire, it takes significantly longer for the battery to light up, as compared to petrol or diesel vehicles, that go up in flames, almost instantly. This adds valuable time for you to evacuate and for help to arrive.
Electricity as the power source
The main advantage of using electricity as the power source is the absence of highly flammable fuels like petrol and diesel. As we all know, in event of a crash, damage to the fuel tank or fuel leaking is the most dangerous situation. As mentioned above, EVs negate this entirely.
But what about charging? Is it safe to charge EVs in the rain? Day by day, the number of EV charging stations is increasing. All of these charging stations are mandated to have adequate safety features. When it comes to charging in the rain, it is an understandable doubt. Well, we've always been told water and electricity are a bad combination!
But contrary to popular belief, it is safe to charge your EV in the rain. Most modern public charging stations are fitted with (GFCI) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCI can detect a sudden surge in electricity and immediately shut down the supply. They are designed to withstand different weather conditions like heavy rain and snow. So, you can charge your EV without hesitation, anytime, anywhere.
Safety is integral to an electric vehicle's design. Some high-end models from brands like Tesla, Audi (e-Tron), and Mercedes Benz (EQC SUVs) offer advanced safety technologies that may soon find their way to affordable EVs as well. Some tech features inform drivers if there is an indication of fatigue or if the driving is unsafe. The most advanced technology would be self-driving. It can possibly improve road safety to a great extent. Self-driving cars often provide lane assist systems, that help keep you away from swerving into oncoming traffic.
All EVs have well-developed cooling systems. They are necessary components because the temperature difference could lead to a difference in charge and discharge rate. Cooling systems could either be air or fluid-based, to keep the car from heating up and damaging the battery.
Due to the absence of an internal combustion engine, EVs produce almost no noise. Oddly so, this has become a problem for pedestrians, who aren't used to it. Most EVs now have a built-in noise emitter, placed at the front and rear. It produces a faint sound, similar to the one people are accustomed to when a car approaches them, to keep them aware.
As with any vehicle, proper maintenance and timely repairs can ensure safety isn't compromised. With a car leasing partner like ALD Automotive, you're in good hands when it comes to regular checks and hassle-free maintenance, repairs and insurance.
Overall, EVs are fantastic to drive. They come with a host of safety features that solve many of their unique problems. It's a fact that EVs are our ride to a safer and greener future. More than anything, they make way for a safer, less polluted environment, which ultimately makes the world a better place. It's important, today, to constantly understand and upgrade EV safety features, to make them a dependable, reliable and safe mobility option for everyone.
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