Volvo Tests Electric Car SafetyPosted on September 23rd, 2009
Safety center tests battery protection in electric C30
Electric cars have great potential in the market, since they are a viable alternative to gas-powered vehicles. But their large battery packs present some serious safety risks in the event of a collision.
Following the reveal of its electric C30, Volvo describes how its safety lab is evaluating the battery pack’s integrity. Safety testing includes five scenarios: normal driving, changes in performance, accident avoidance, collision, and post collision.
For normal driving, safety engineers determine if each battery cell maintains the correct voltage and operating temperature by regulating the cooling system. Since the battery pack weighs about 150 kilograms (330 pounds), it changes the vehicle’s front-to-rear weight balance. Engineers must make sure that the brakes, dynamic stability and traction control systems can handle the extra weight.
Volvo uses accident avoidance technology including collision warning and city safety to prevent or reduce the severity of collisions. Volvo’s proprietary city safety system debuted on the new XC60. The system automatically applies the brakes if the driver is distracted in stop-and-go-traffic. It can prevent rear-end collisions at speeds under 19 miles-per-hour.
To protect passengers if a collision occurs, the battery is encapsulated between the car’s wheel housings. Structural elements prevent intrusion to the area around the battery. If battery damage occurs, special ducts evacuate gas leaks away from the car and its occupants. At the point of impact, crash sensors signal the car’s on-board computer to shut off power, preventing a short circuit.
After the collision, the battery has a security cut-out that works like a circuit breaker. It shuts down and isolates the battery if current travels in the wrong direction. This could occur if the battery leads are pressed together as a result of the collision.
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