how they destroy electric cars. Insurance companies tried it to “burn” Tesla.

Statistics from insurer AXA show that owners of electric vehicles are on average 50% more likely to be involved in accidents than drivers of internal combustion engines. Additionally, her record revealed that she would do up to twice as much damage if an accident occurred. So I decided to conduct two of her crash tests, simulating typical accidents, to find out how an electric car would perform in it.

Michael Pfäffli, head of AXA’s accident investigation team, believes that the high power of electric vehicles in general is a major cause of heavy losses. “The more powerful the car, the more damage it can do to itself and others in an accident,” he said.

The biggest cost of an accident is clearly the traction battery. “The battery is the heart of an electric vehicle. It affects not only its performance and driving characteristics, but also its structure and weight. It also has a fundamental impact on how rescue and recovery operations are carried out.” points out. Pfaffri.

At the same time, according to Axa, the driving characteristics of electric vehicles are very different from those of internal combustion engines. According to insurance company research, more than 50% of his electric car drivers had to adjust their driving behavior, especially when braking. “This is surprising because our analysis shows that the greatest risk is not brought about by braking, but rather by accelerating,” says the expert. According to him, most electric cars have an unexpectedly large amount of torque, which can be obtained even immediately after pressing the accelerator pedal. And this can lead to unwanted accelerations that the driver can no longer correct.

In the first of two crash tests, the Tesla driver was supposed to create just such a situation in which a short step on the pedal would cause the car to lose control due to rapid acceleration. The car then rushes into the roundabout at exorbitant speed, the driver is unable to hit the brakes, and the “roundabout” runs over the vehicle. However, here a pitfall awaits in the form of uneven terrain, which not only seriously damages the chassis, but also turns the car over on the roof during operation.

Crash test Tesla Model S | Video: AXA

Crash tests have shown no cabin deformation, even in a Tesla with its wheels pointing up. I can. Flames eventually erupted from the chassis of the tested car, which was the work of the pyrotechnician present. The insurance company wanted to demonstrate just how dangerous a seemingly mundane accident could be for a battery car.

“The chassis is like the Achilles heel of an electric car. In our experience, the battery is often damaged when crossing road islands, stones and roundabouts,” says Michael Pfefli.

The battery is generally protected by the frame, but similar reinforcement is missing from below. Insurance companies are therefore urging automakers to protect the chassis with titanium plates or similar resistant materials. At the same time, we will send recommendations to the EuroNCAP organization to also focus on the stability of chassis components during crash tests. But the general public often tends to overestimate the fire hazard, he adds in a nutshell. Insurance company records show that a ten increases the risk of damage to a car by 38 times.

Records show that electric cars do not catch fire more often than internal combustion engines. “However, when fires do occur, the battery cells usually catch fire and are difficult to extinguish,” Pfäffli says. According to him, there is still no satisfactory solution to do it quickly, safely, environmentally and inexpensively.

Another problem with electric vehicles is weight, according to AXA experts. Current cars registered with insurance bodies weigh an average of 1,680 kilograms, a quarter of what he did more than 20 years ago. In addition, there is an assumption that the boom in e-mobility will exceed the 2 tonne average within the next few years.

The second test was to show what would happen if a petrol Volkswagen Golf collided head-on with an electric Volkswagen Golf at 50 km/h. The internal combustion Golf weighs 1250 kg, while the battery-powered Golf is over 4 meters.

Volkswagen Golf Crash Test: Gas vs Electric | Video: AXA

“In the event of an accident, the weight difference between the vehicles involved is decisive. Lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage because they have a higher energy load than heavier vehicles,” explains Pfäffli. AXA’s statistics only confirm this. A heavy passenger car over 2 tons causes on average he 10% more property damage than a light car under 1 ton.

However, in this case, the difference in weight between the two cars had no effect on the possible consequences for the crew. The cabins of both cars remained intact after testing, and passengers would have suffered, at best, minor injuries from the accident.

However, in our experiments, the gasoline Golf did slightly more damage than the electric Golf.


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