Researchers total a Nissan Leaf in the name of science

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Words: Nile Bijoux
19 Nov 2019

After a smattering of electric vehicle fires, a group of researchers got together to try and disprove theories that electric cars are less safe than their combustion-powered rivals. How did they do that? By launching a Leaf into a pole at speed.

The researchers were from DEKRA, which stands for Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungs-Verein, or German Motor Vehicle Inspection Association, and the University Medical Center of Göttingen. They grabbed an older Nissan Leaf to show that EVs won’t explode as soon as they crash which, in this case, was a 75km/h side impact with a pole.

Needless to say, the car was destroyed. The pole pushed right through the passenger door and would have almost certainly killed any occupants. But the battery pack didn’t explode, showing that Nissan’s battery safety systems work well.

It’s not a totally conclusive test as it was just one vehicle but it shows that there isn’t really a reason to fear EVs catching fire any more than an ICE vehicle in a severe crash. In fact, the only take-home finding from the test is that hitting a pole at 75km/h sideways will not end well.

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