Electric Vehicles

NHTSA getting serious about vehicle battery safety risks with new initiative

Electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles are gaining prominence among buyers, but they still face safety obstacles.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Mfg. Inc.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that they are establishing the a Battery Safety Initiative for Electric Vehicles. This initiative is designed to coordinate research and other activities to address safety risks relating to batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs).

This move by the NHTSA, which has received flack for not taking the threats of Tesla's battery and hands-free-ish driving capability seriously, has long been anticipated. However, the problem isn't isolated to Tesla.

Not only will the research collect and analyze data related to electric vehicle battery safety, the NHTSA will examine field incidents including special investigations of electric vehicle crash and non-crash events related to battery safety. This research includes evaluations of the health of a battery including the role of prognostics, diagnostics, and intervention.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-EThe Ford Mustang Mach-E is just one of the new RVs arriving in the U.S. market.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Battery Management System (BMS) cybersecurity will also be considered. The government agency will explore the risks and vehicle-side measures related to wired and wireless charging communications and other vehicle connectivity paths, such a telematics, that could allow for access to a vehicle's BMS. Many electric vehicle. makers allow owners to download an app that connects to their vehicle that schedules charging, electricity flow, and other EV-specific commands.

High-voltage battery charging failure modes and effects analysis are also part of the efforts. NHTSA will evaluate the safety of extremely fast charging (350 kilowatts to 1 megawatt) and wireless vehicle charging. They will also take into account the advances in battery management systems and work to develop test regulated procedures.

Additionally, the NHTSA has charged its workers with developing Phase 1 of Global Technical Regulation (GTR) No. 20 for Electric Vehicle Safety into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. These regulations were adopted by the United Nations World Forum in 2018 and contain requirements for in-use operational safety, post-crash electrical safety, and battery fire safety.

Once that is complete, the NHTSA will participate in the development of Phase 2 of the GTR No. 20 for Electrical Vehicle Safety. The issues being considered in the second phase include safety as it relates to battery thermal runaway, water immersion, and vibration resistance.

Trending News

 
 

The Sakura is Nissan's newest EV.

Nissan

It's no secret that the Japanese get all manner of quirky, cool cars that we don't see here in the States. Sure, there's the Nissan Skyline and Mitsubishi Delica van, but tiny vehicles like kei cars and "minivehicles" are popular imports for Americans looking to diversify their drives. Pint-sized kei cars are ripe for electrification, and Nissan did just that with its new Sakura EV, which comes almost a year after the automaker announced it was working with Mitsubishi to develop tiny electric models. It's one of dozens of new EVs slated to come from the Mitsubishi-Nissan-Renaul Alliance this decade.

Though tiny, the Sakura offers a decent top speed of 80 mph, and its range of around 112 miles could make it an ideal urban runabout for many. That said, there's little chance the car will come to the United States. Japan's minivehicles and kei cars are far smaller than anything currently on sale here. For example, the Sakura's 133.6-inch length makes it almost 18 inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, a car that Americans would consider minuscule.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura borrows features from the Nissan Leaf, including its battery.Nissan

Nissan borrowed the Sakura's 20-kWh battery from the Leaf and says it can be used to provide power for external devices or even power a home for up to a day. The car comes with three driving modes to change the behavior of things like regenerative braking and throttle response, and Nissan says it took further guidance from the Leaf to give the Sakura the quietest cabin in its class.

The Sakura's upright shape likely helps with headroom, but it certainly doesn't increase cargo space, as Nissan claims just 107 liters (4 cubic feet) of room. That said, the car features small-item storage spaces for gear like a smartphone or wallet. Buyers can opt for black, beige, or blue-grey interior colors, and an upgrade package is available that brings a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There are a surprising number of features packed into the minute Nissan's cabin. A 7-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard, and a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Nissan says the car's displays are oriented to reduce distraction and keep the driver's eyes on the road, and ProPilot safety systems are standard, including a new parking assist feature. ProPilot is a stepping stone toward Nissan's goal of debuting autonomous driving tech by 2030.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura isn't destined for the U.S. - yet, anyway. Nissan

The Sakura goes on sale in Japan this summer. It's priced at 1.78 million yen, or around $14,000. The car will be available for purchase online, and Nissan says it will offer video chats and other resources to help buyers with the process. Buyers will be able to opt for a full in-person buying experience, a completely virtual experience, or anything in between.

Trending News

 
 

New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

Trending News