The challenges of electric vehicle crash tests

The presence of large-size traction batteries requires special safety measures.

As hybrid and fully-electric powertrains continue to gain market share in both the passenger car and bus segments, the operators of crash-test facilities are facing specific new challenges. Particularly when it comes to assessing the passive safety of a hybrid or battery-powered vehicle, the presence of a high-capacity traction battery requires appropriate safety precautions on site. “Testing the crashworthiness of the battery package is a key objective for these vehicles. In the worst case scenario, lithium-ion cells are at risk of fire after potential damage during a crash test,” explains Philipp Hoffmann, Key Account Manager at MESSRING.

Ensure safety

“In addition to monitoring the data provided by the battery system itself, one of the most important precautions is to have a suitable thermal imaging system on site,” says Hoffmann. “This allows the operator to gain early indications of defective battery cells, which can lead to a sudden rise in temperature.” According to Hoffmann, it is important to react quickly in this case, as there is a danger of overheating and subsequent fire of the battery and test vehicle. The most effective safeguard is to immerse the entire battery vehicle in a suitable water basin directly near the crash site, immediately after a possible fire has been detected.

Backup data without risk

However, proper data acquisition and recording also remains a high priority in an emergency. “Our wireless LAN bridge allows to download all data recorded on board the vehicle via a hardware test interface, even if the crashed vehicle is already on its way to the water basin,” explains Hoffmann. Moreover, compared to a standard wired connection, the WLAN connection does away with the amount of time that would otherwise be needed to unplug the cables from the vehicle. The unnecessary physical risk of approaching the vehicle to unplug it is also eliminated; nor is a remote-controlled robot needed for this purpose.

Turnkey Solution

For MESSRING it is clear that the planning of crash test procedures for hybrid and battery-powered vehicles and, in particular, the development of associated emergency measures has become absolutely necessary. With the experience gained from 150 installed crash and sled test benches, MESSRING has valuable experience, also in the field of electro mobility, and offers comprehensive consulting right from the project planning phase and builds turnkey crash test facilities that are tailor-made for specific applications.