I too would like to know if the battery packs are damaged and leaking is it an environmental hazard? Certainly not all electrolytes are created equal and some of them must be toxic. It would be interesting to know how first-responders or clean-up crews deal with it.
Telsa's publishing of safety news certainly leaves other companies with fewer choices. If they counter Telsa by publishing such news, they will be advertising against their gasoline powered vehicles. On the other hand, if they don't publish, they will be compromising their EVs. I believe, however, that it will not hurt them as much as it seems apparently. Because what they might lose in gasoline powered vehicles they will gain in EVs.
@ Rob Spiegel, it is clearly stated in the article that EVs have at least three inherent safety advantages over their gasoline powered counterparts. But I think it is more about Telsa than EVs because some other EVs by other companies got four stars. There must be something more than these three inherent advantages in Telsa's Model S that got it five stars.
I don't know the definitive answer to your question, bobjengr, but I'm not familiar with any NHTSA standards that target only EVs, ICEs, or hybrids. Is there a reader out there who can enlighten us on this?
Well, I think - based on some very vague observations, the ICE can be very reliable and about as safe as any other rapidly moving vehicle with slow witted humans in control. Minor design and manufacturing errors can make it unsafe at any speed. Similarly the battery car can be extreemly safe. And while it may do a thermite thing, it is not as likely to spray you with burning fuel when ruptured. Unfortunatly the failure mechanisms are less familiar to both the typical user, the maintenance personel, and the designers.
Of the two - however - only one gets you to work when solar/wind/nuclear are the only inexpensive energy sources and gasoline tops $4 a gallon. And a bit odd at that. I thought coal-oil (nuclear assisted or not) was around $2/gal which should mean our very cost conscious market should now be producing coal oil for our cars, not gasoline??? Is there a problem here way way beyond just the obvious one with a (relativly) new battery technology, and it's annoying limitations???
"Gasoline is poisonous, forms explosive mixtures with air, and is quite flamable. Batteries - because they carry both fuel and oxidizer - can burn without air. The better the battery the hotter it burns. The Li Ions are pretty good at doing the thermite thing. Overall, I do not feel either one is particularly "safe", just different risks."
Fred, you are right; risks are associated with all source of energy. The only question is which is minimal and economical
NHTSA mandates three major types of crash testing:
1. Frontal impact. There are several subcatagories based on overlap between vehicles (100% overlap, 50% overlap and 25% overlap). Some impacts are with a massive concrete barrier. Others are into softer "deformable" barriers.
2. Side Impact. A test sled is driven into the target vehicle at a specified speed and mass.
3. Rollover. The test vehicle is driven or pulled onto a helical ramp which then triggers the rollover.
There is also some rear impact testing, mainly to verify head restraint performance, seat attachment robustness, and fuel leakage.
IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) often performs additional testing or testis to more severe conditions than mandated by NHTSA regulations.
The auto industry has learned a lot about how to improve the crashworthiness of vehicles over the past 30 years. However, Tesla has a definite advantage because they began with a clean sheet design. They could then address all the crashworthyness regulations from the beginning, making design decisions that could optimize crush zone characteristics which reduced occupant injuries.
Disclosure: I spent a majority of my career designing electronics to mitigate occupant injuries in crashes.
I haven't had a chance to read all the comments here, but I've looked at a few and some are making the case that lithium-ion chemistries aren't safe. And, yes, it's true that lithium-ion (particularly cobalt oxide chemistries) are more energetic than other battery chemistries. But bear in mind that gasoline has a much, much higher energy density than any battery...yet engineers have been able to make gasoline-burning vehicles very safe.
Leto, you are probably correct, but I was thinking that if I were driving a car that expensive I would be very careful indeed. Even with my present car I have avoided being hit by taking the initiative and getting out of the way of some people. So it is possible for some of us to pay enough attention to avoid the errors of others. At least sometimes. But there are a lot of other folks who would never consider getting out of the way of a car sliding towards them, because the have a right to be where they were. I consider that to be quite dumb.
On April 15, 2010, President Barack Obama gave a major speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, announcing that the US would send astronauts to Mars by the mid-2030s. But in order to do so, NASA would first need to ramp up its capabilities through missions directed toward "a series of increasingly demanding targets," i.e. asteroids.
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