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EV safety features and considerations

    Safety for EVs should be considered to minimise risk through vehicle safety regulations. Every electric vehicle tested in the last five years has achieved a 5 star rating from ANCAP.

    EV safety features

    Due to the difference in drivetrain between a battery electric vehicle (BEV) and an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), there are structural components that deem a BEV safer than an ICEV.

    Fewer components allow for more flexibility in vehicle design, and the position of the battery pack on the bottom of the car provides more crumple zone space. The lower centre of gravity due to the battery position also improves handling and prevents rollover accidents. [1] Safety features including lane assist and vehicle sensors provide improved visibility. Remote software can update these capabilities as they are developed. Future electric vehicles will be automated, removing the risk of human error while driving.

    The Tesla Model 3 is the safest car ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. [2] In a test of 900 vehicles, the test determined that the Tesla Model 3 has the lowest probability of causing an injury in a collision. [3]

    Safety considerations for EVs

    There are a few safety considerations for electric vehicles. [4]

    AreasSafety considerations
    Electrical systemElectrical safety in-use
    Electrical safety post-crash
    Crash compatibility of EVs
    Charging batteriesRechargeable energy storage systems
    Acoustic perception
    Electromagnetic fields
    System functionFunctional safety
    Vehicle maintenanceSafety during maintenance and repair
    Acoustic perception

    Internationally, it has been recognised that EVs could pose an additional risk to cyclists and pedestrians, due to the low level of noise they emit.

    The European Union has therefore regulated that vehicles travelling under 30 km must emulate an engine noise, so as to warn passengers. [5] It is likely that EVs in Australia will self regulate this. Additionally, EVs must be equipped with a warning that will allow pedestrians to reveal their presence and direction of movement. [6]

    Functional safety and driver training

    EVs could present some potential functional safety hazards. Therefore, drivers must be protected against all risks of direct contact with electric components, and driver training is required for safe EV operation.

    You need to consider:

    • EV torque and power are quite different to an ICEV
    • safe and efficient electric vehicle driving requires training
    • charging should be done properly and with necessary discipline. [6]

    Maintenance of the vehicle

    Employees should be trained at workshops in the safe use of EVs.

    This includes covering things like:

    • the battery should be disconnected before any kind of intervention.
    • mechanical parts (including electrical repairs) should only be completed by specially trained personnel.
    • electrical and routine maintenance for safe operation includes: testing the resistance of insulation, earth leakage functioning controller, battery status, and battery maintenance and cleaning. [6]

    EV UN regulations and standards

    United Nations (UN) regulations generally provide for the approval of vehicle systems and components, or for specific aspects of a vehicle.

    Several UN Regulations have been amended to include specific provisions for EVs including:

    • UN Regulation 12 (protective steering)
    • UN Regulation 13 and 13-H (braking)
    • UN Regulation 51 (noise)
    • UN Regulation 83 (emissions)
    • UN Regulation 85 (engine  power)
    • UN  Regulation 101  (CO2 emissions)
    • UN Regulation 94 (frontal impact)
    • UN Regulation 95 (side impact)

    UN Regulation 100 sets out specific provisions for electrical  powertrains and was recently made mandatory for EU type-approval.

    The UN Global Technical Regulations that are currently in place do not require special provisions for EVs, but a proposal to provide regulatory provisions includes:

    • in-use safety provisions to include occupant protection from electric shock, charging requirements and safety requirements for rechargeable energy storage systems.
    • post-crash safety provisions to include electrical isolation, battery integrity, best practices or guidelines for manufacturers and/or emergency responders and battery discharge procedures.

    International standards work for electric vehicles is largely being undertaken by two bodies: ISO and IEC. [4]