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Are electric vehicles safe to drive?

The popularity of electric vehicles is rising year on year, but are they as safe as traditional petrol and diesel vehicles?

Risk of fires

Fire is one of the biggest safety concerns people have when considering buying an EV.

While you may think, understandably, that fires are more common in internal combustion engines, but electric vehicle crashes are equally likely to result in a fire.

The lithium ion battery is the biggest concern. If one of the cells is damaged, causing it to short-circuit, it can cause a fire. This is problematic because it will continue to heat up because of the stored energy in the battery.

Thousands of cells are at risk of joining the fire if they are damaged by the high heat, potentially causing a chain reaction that is almost impossible to extinguish. Simply wait until it burns out!

However, in reality there have been a small number of battery fires in EVs due to extensive safety measures. Pyro fuses, isolation systems and power cut-offs reduce the risk of fire massively.

So, battery fires may be more dangerous for anyone trying to put out the fire, but the risk of fire is not increased overall.

Risk of crashing

Electric vehicles must go through the same crash tests as traditional vehicles, meaning they still have crumple zones, airbags and strengthened body structures.

Generally speaking, the heavier the vehicle, the safer it will be in a collision. EV batteries are heavy and are often positioned in lower levels in cars. An EV battery can weigh over 450kg, lowering the centre of gravity of the vehicle resulting in greater safety during a collision.

The battery is built into structure resistant to crashes and placed in a area where it is least likely to be damaged in a collision.

Risk of electric shocks

Electric cars aren't known for handing out electric shocks.

In fact, the only risk comes from working on or recovering electric vehicles due to the high voltage batteries.

However, the Institute of the Motor Industry has introduced specialised courses for mechanics who work on EV and hybrids vehicles.

Risk of 'spinning out'

The extra weight of the battery in an EV lowers the centre of gravity, as aforementioned.

But why is this useful? It reduces the risk of spinning out after a collision. The lighter the car, the less likely it will come out of a crash unscathed... or facing the right direction.

The lack of engine in an EV also increases the safety of the passengers since front-heavy vehicles can transmit crash energy into the seating space. Without an engine, manufacturers can instead focus on creating a safer front-end with extra crash features.

Risk of side impacts e.g. crashing into a tree side-on

All vehicles are put through extensive safety measures. The pole test is perhaps one of the toughest tests.

NCAP's pole test sees a car propelled sideways at around 20 mph into a rigid pole from varying angles.

No shortcomings have been found in EVs during the pole test due to the armoured casing surrounding batteries.

Damaged batteries must be replaced, but you should be safe in your EV according to NCAP.

Thinking of switching to electric?

Electric vehicles are the future. Car manufacturers are constantly announcing and bringing out new models in an increasingly competitive market. This means electric cars are constantly being tested, upgraded with new safety features, and being put through stringent NCAP testing.

If you are thinking of switching to an electric fleet, you require at-work charge points in order to ensure the efficiency of your fleet. To speak with an expert, call Charge And Recharge on 01827 211600.


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