Under high voltage: that’s how dangerous electric cars really are

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That is how dangerous electric cars really are

Under high voltage: that's how dangerous electric cars really are-really

The rescue card for the Tesla Model S. It is recommended that every owner keep it in the car. In this way, the rescue workers can safely rescue people from the vehicle

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The ADAC appeased, but the insurers state that the batteries are at great risk of fire. Rightly so, as the example of a burning Tesla Model S shows. The fire brigade also faces problems.

D.he e-car fire in the USA is fueling the safety concerns of many electric car skeptics. An amateur video on Youtube shows the Model S electric sedan from the American manufacturer Tesla, from which high flames broke out after an accident.

The company has confirmed the incident, but speaks of an isolated case. Drivers are confused: Is an electric car more dangerous than a vehicle with a conventional drive?

No, say ADAC experts who subjected electric and hybrid vehicles to various crash tests. "Our tests have shown that these vehicles are safe, both in frontal, side and rear crashes," said a statement from the automobile club.

The Model S, which went up in flames in the USA, also received top marks from the US traffic safety authority. According to the company, the electric sedan had run over a metal part before the fire that tore a large hole in the underbody.

The exact circumstances of the fire are still being investigated. One possibility is that as a result of the accident, a short circuit triggered a scorching fire in a battery pack, say the ADAC experts. "However, short circuits can always happen if an energy-carrying line is damaged," says ADAC man Christian Buric.

Below 650 volts

Even in a car with a combustion engine. “There is no such thing as 100 percent safety in any car.” But he also says: As things stand at the moment, an electric car is no more dangerous than a conventional vehicle.

Even if electric cars are sometimes as environmentally friendly as the Tesla or as cute as the new Renault Twizy, they carry a source of danger with them: the lithium-ion batteries with their electrochemical processes. "The storage capacities are immense – but the risk of fire is also high," state experts from the General Association of the German Insurance Industry GdV in the draft of a leaflet on loss prevention.

In hybrid and electric vehicles, up to 650 volts run through the lines. For comparison: 230 volts come from a normal socket – but in the event of a crash, the e-mobile must shut down its highvoltage system via the accident protection switch. In the most recent case in America, the vehicle reacted well: The Tesla had asked its driver to park the car and get out quickly.

In the video showing the burning car in the United States, the firefighters keep their distance. In Germany the picture would probably be similar: It is true that there are apparently no nationwide training courses for firefighters on electric cars. But if an e-mobile were to fire in this country, the rescuers would by no means be helpless.

Like a transformer fire

They would transfer their experiences from other areas: "The firefighters know how to behave in an electrical fire," says Oliver Lederle, director of the Schleswig-Holstein State Fire Brigade School. "If you find that the fire falls into this category, behave in exactly the same way as, for example, a transformer fire.".

However, the prerequisite for their use is that the fire fighters at the scene of the accident recognize in good time that they are dealing with an electric car. The internationally known lightning symbol for "Caution high voltage" would be desirable from their point of view, but should not please the owners of such models. And the manufacturers even less.

In everyday life, the rescue card also helps rescuers to break new ground with alternative drives: The technical data sheet shows, for example, in detail where the electrical cables run and where the fire fighters can safely cut open the body. Automobile clubs recommend not only drivers of electric cars, but also of conventional vehicles to deposit the emergency card of their model behind the driver’s sun visor. Because the technology of a modern car is very complex today.

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