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-E The 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.

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New electric pickup truck

GMC Hummer EV deliveries to start soon

Hummer EV deliveries will start in December.

GMC

This year has turned out to be as difficult for automakers as 2020 was, if not much more so. The pandemic is still a major factor, and to make matters worse there's a global microchip shortage that heavily impacts automakers' ability to build tech-heavy vehicles. GMC has a big launch left to handle in 2021, and according to a recent call with journalists, it's proceeding as planned. On a recent call with reporters, GMC exec Duncan Aldred noted that Hummer EV pickup deliveries are on track to begin in December. He also elaborated on the truck's EPA range numbers.

2023 GMC Hummer EV The trucks will deliver up to 329 miles on a charge. GMC

The Hummer's EPA range lands at 329, not far from the 350 miles General Motors targeted for the vehicle. Those are the estimates for the limited Hummer Edition 1, which carries a six-figure price tag and gobs of bells and whistles. Aldred said that other models coming later on will offer longer range estimates when they hit the roads sometime in 2023.

A staggering 80 percent of reservations GMC has gathered so far are for the Edition 1 model. Almost half of the 125,000 people who have inquired about the Hummer EV have placed the refundable $100 deposit and the SUV's first year of production is completely sold out.

2023 GMC Hummer EV The Hummer EV's first year of production is sold out. GMC

When it hits the streets later this year, the Hummer EV will be just in time to face off against a growing crop of EV trucks and SUVs. Rivian recently began delivering the R1T electric pickup truck and will continue with the R1S SUV next year. The Ford F-150 Lightning is coming in 2022, and General Motors itself has a Cadillac EV rollout to handle in 2022. Chevy and GMC will show off electric versions of the Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks on January 5 and GMC will push the Hummer SUV EV in 2023.

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VinFast will soon launch in the United States.

VinFast

The automotive business is a tough place to cut your teeth as a company. So many have tried and failed to break through with new vehicles, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Electric vehicles seem to present a perfect opportunity for companies of all types to jump in with a new product. Such is the case with VinFast, a Vietnamese automaker. The company launched two new crossovers at the LA Auto Show yesterday, both of which are heading to the United States.

VinFast EVs Two models will debut at first, but the company plans on expanding here.VinFast

The VinFast VF e35 features up to 301 miles of range on a charge, while the full-size three-row VF e36 can travel up to 422 miles on a charge. Both vehicles come with a ten-year/100,000-mile warranty. VinFast says that its launch strategy in the United States wraps in charging stations, as the company realizes that they are a necessary part of EV adoption. In Vietnam, VinFast is in the process of building 40,000 charging stations to bolster adoption.

VinFast EVs VinFast will eventually build a factory in the United States.VinFast

Here, the automaker will build dozens of company-branded stores to sell its vehicles, similar to the approach taken by Tesla. VinFast's plan is to position itself as an exclusive product in the EV space, and to help it expand in the U.S., the company plans to build a factory in 2024. Part of its launch will also involve several special events across the country to introduce the brand and its vehicles.

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