"Tesla Motors's recent five-star sweep in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety ratings shed light on an important aspect of electric cars: They're inherently safer than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines."
Charles, that's great, one more reason for opting an electric vehicle. I think apart from that energy star rating also has to be done with EVs.
Chuck, Excellent post and interesting angle on Tesla's success. Certainly this is a company that is red hot in terms of perception and innovation> Safety isn't the only reason to buy an electric car but it definitely adds to the value.
While the electric cars may be passing most of the NHTSA safety tests with flying colors, they still have some underlying problems that will make sure they do not become an entirely viable alternative anytime in the near future. For instance (and this is one of the most serious problems) they have serious shortage when it comes to power storage. The power can only last so long and its not like you can drive into a gas station for a recharge as you would with an ordinary car.
Truely a misleading article tring to take a rating for the Tesla and tranferring that good rating to all EV vechiles.
1. The Telsa is not your normal EV car. It is an extreme luxury car replacement Think BMW so should be compared to such. It is very large in size for an EV so it benifits heavily from this size issue. This rating does very little to transfer to other EV's which are like Yugo's and would easily be crushed like a bug in a true accident. Their is a whole class of small enclosed EV's which are not even rated as standard cars, because they could not pass current auto standards.
2. As engineers we all know the results are only as good as the tests. These tests were written for gas vechiles developed to test for common failure modes fo gas vechiles. The rollover test came about after top heavy vechiles rollover became common, Rear crash test from the failure of Pinto et al to protect the fuel tank.
When testing an EV you cannot use the same standard, a common goverment mistake. EV's have their own set of failure modes that need tested sadly we will not know many of these until they become more widely accepted. One we do know and I cannot tell you if their is a test for, is battery rupture and latter meltdown by fire.
anandy, it's true there are energy storage issues.
Leatherman tools, oscilloscopes, DVMs, guns, are examples of extremely useful products of which there are no universally perfect configurations.
Cars have been that way for a long time. Somehow, people have always wanted a sporty, economical, attractive, fast, four-wheel drive, comfortable, spacious, freight-friendly, 7 passenger two seater with a manual, automatic transmission, multi-fuel capability, iPod electronic dash that any teenager or housewife could self-service. There are inherent conflicts in that imaginary list, as you can see!
I've always told my friends who have never done a product design that all clients want someting that does everything for nothing, now. Easy peasey, right? If you are an engineer, you know exactly what I mean. THey don't get physics OR economics!
The Tesla, like my Honda Insight, isn't a vehicle for transporting sheet rock or plywood or casual off-roading. It has to be employed within its capability envelop. That envelop (moving ONE person from point A to point B, within town or on short interstate trips) covers a lot of US daily drivers, perhaps the majority. The incremental infrastructure to make this viable isn't that huge. I think the problem of charging is a red-herring. A Tesla, if I had one, would meet 95% of my transportation demands. Maybe 99. If I had the money to waste on one, I would have enough to rent a Tacoma pickup when I need one, which is annually.
These guys are on to something, I think. I think they'll push the lagging buzzards at Ford, GM, and the rest forward. These cars are selling like hotcakes, priced like Mercedes. THe Big 3 have been sitting idle, completely ignorant or dismissive of the market potential. (Think Apple versus Blackberry/RIM.)
I often tell non-engineers that we tested something, but that doesn't mean it's good.
It means it passed the test we gave it, using what we used, when we tested it. It has a moderate predictive value. I have made a career troubleshooting designs that passed test and didn't work. Hell, at the aerospace companies I worked for (Martin and Raytheon) as often as not, when Test would find a failure of a product to meet specs, the product engineers would just change the specs to conform to test results.
Still, the specs here are how the car reacts to crashes, which apply to all vehicles. A Yugo isn't going to get 5 stars across the board like a Mercedes will. The Mercedes is undeniably safer. So is the Tesla. Without a doubt.
Does it transfer to smaller EVs? Probably the rollover does. Maybe the gas issue. The electrical problem is a real one, and I'm with you on that. Just because those lithium batteries are the same as those in your iPhone doesn't make them any safer. Look no further than the Boeing Dreamliner. QED.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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