We have reached a point in time where electric vehicles have become a viable option when buying a new car. They now have the range and technology to compete – and surpass – conventionally-fueled vehicles, becoming increasingly more attractive to consumers.
However, there are still some questions to be addressed, as many consumers still are not entirely sure what they are getting themselves into. Buying an electric vehicles can be, on the surface, a daunting task, as the way the are operated and charged is a lot different to the usual characteristic we have been used to for so long.
But, perhaps most importantly, people are worried about the safety of these new vehicles, mostly down to the battery and pedestrians that do not hear the car approaching.
For this reason, I thought it would be great to get Polestar involved as, being part of the Volvo Group, safety is in the company’s DNA. Andrew Lytheer shares his thoughts.
What are the main safety concerns around electric vehicles from a consumer perspective?
Consumers are very conscious about the battery side of EVs and the safety thereof, new technologies rightly attract this sort of attention. Of course, this is why a huge amount of effort is made to secure battery safety.
When it comes to crash tests, what new approaches have you taken with EVs at Polestar?
Being part of the Volvo family means we have the latest safety technology and development on our doorstep. Together with Volvo we have engineered the safety of Polestar 2 to the highest level. The Volvo Cars Safety Centre in Gothenburg was also updated to accommodate for new measures required for crash testing electric vehicles.
There is a lot of concern from new EV buyers over battery safety. How do you protect the battery in a collision?
The battery is firstly enclosed in a rigid aluminium case which protects it outright. Then, we have additional protection measures that are implemented in the event of a collision.
The Front Lower Load Path (FLLP) is enhanced in Polestar 2 to increase frontal impact protection especially in the absence of a combustion engine which would traditionally have formed part of the crash structure. The stronger front end means less potential for impacts to reach the battery.
The Severe Partial Offset Collision (SPOC) block is also used to protect the battery (and the cabin) from severe frontal offset collisions by directing wheel and suspension components outwards away from the vehicle, rather than inwards towards the firewall, cabin floor and the battery.
The battery is also designed to instantly disconnect from the high voltage system in the case of an impact to remove the risk of short circuits.
Are there any EV myths that need to be addressed?
We prefer to focus on the facts.
In addition, how important is it to educate consumers and how do we do this effectively?
Safety education is very important which is why we have recently focused on the safety technology of Polestar 2 in the media as well as our recent live webinar which was initially broadcast to customers and newsletter subscribers.
Outside of the vehicle, people have expressed concerns of the lack of noise of EVs and the increased risk for pedestrians. How have you combated this?
Polestar 2 features AVAS – our Acoustic Vehicle Alert System. This is enabled by loudspeakers at the front and rear of the car which emit carefully designed sounds to increase the safety of road users around Polestar 2. In forward motion the sounds are emitted between 0 and 30 km/h, and always when in reverse.
The AVAS sounds are purposefully unobtrusive and natural-sounding, but of course they are also distinctive and easy to locate, making it intuitive to know where the moving vehicle is
Most – if not all – EVs come with connected features that improve safety. What safety benefits do these vehicles have over ‘traditional’ vehicles and how will develop in the coming years?
Polestar 2 is equipped with an automatic emergency response system which automatically alerts emergency services in the event of a collision, and automatically dials an emergency call centre agent who is then able to engage directly with the occupants to guide them through recovery or to help assess injuries before emergency services arrive on the scene.
An additional safety feature in Polestar 2, due later in 2020, is so-called Connected Safety, which allows individual vehicles to send safety-related alerts to the cloud, to be shared with other vehicles in nearby proximity. For example, if a vehicle is involved in an accident, it can warn other vehicles of the hazard that has been created. Similarly, if a vehicle detects loss of traction due to an icy road for example, other vehicles in the vicinity can be warned of the same hazard.
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