How safe are electric vehicles? It’s a question that keeps coming up in different ways in my role overseeing our vehicle crashworthiness evaluations.
When we first started testing electric vehicles in 2011, the question referred to fire risk.
When damaged, lithium-ion batteries can ignite, and the fires can be extremely hard to put out. As a result, we have special procedures for EV testing, including monitoring the battery’s voltage and temperature and asking our local fire department to be on site.
Fifty-five EV crash tests and zero fires later, I’m still worried about these batteries, but for a more mundane reason than their potential to burst into flames.
My biggest concern is how heavy they are and what all that extra vehicle weight means for the safety of people on the road, specifically occupants of lighter vehicles as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.