Last week, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an $8.75 million study to investigate whether lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles pose a potential fire hazard. NHTSA is undertaking the study to ensure the safe charging of vehicles and to mitigate any potential risks. No prior vehicle incident triggered the study.
The issue of electric vehicle safety, and the safety of drivers and first responders, is EV Safety Training’s first priority, and we plan to pay close attention to the results of this NHTSA study.
It’s also important to note that several other safety-related studies have also released their findings this year. In April, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave both the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf a Top Safety Pick designation. Not only did both cars perform well in all standard combustion-engine vehicle tests, but all additional safety features related to the batteries and high-voltage cabling in the electric vehicles performed exactly as designed. The fully-charged battery packs were not damaged in the crash tests, and the automatic shutdown features that disengage the power source in the event of a crash worked flawlessly. The IIHS did not detect any electrical or fire hazards. The Chevrolet Volt also received a 5-star crash test rating from NHTSA.
The NHTSA lithium ion research will take a few years to produce results, and EV Safety Training will be keeping a close eye on other studies that might point us in the direction of potential dangers in electric vehicles. However, the high safety ratings of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf prove that EV Safety Training isn’t the only group trying to keep passengers and first responders safe—car manufacturers are, too.