It seems that every few months we see another alarmist report on the safety of Electric Vehicles. For instance there have been numerous articles about a small number of Tesla battery fires, these seem to get more air time than the 180,000 Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) fires that happen each year in the US, which works out at roughly one every 3 minutes! But why are journalists so keen to write stories about every single Tesla fire, but ignore the 490 ICE fires that happen each day? It surely can’t be anything to do with the level of interest and guaranteed clicks that Tesla generates, whatever the story!
What is more Tesla argue that their cars are actually ten times less likely to catch fire than an ICE vehicle. However stories like this can stay in the public imagination for a long time and are often cited as another reason not to switch to EV. Now a new report from the independent Insurance Institute for Highways Safety (IIHS) in the US, has provided significant evidence about the safety of Electric Vehicles.
In the study the IIHS compared 9 models of car that have both electric and ICE drive-train and examined the collision, damage and injury data for these cars between 2011 – 2019. The research found that injury claims for EV drivers (and passengers) were 40% lower than for the exact same ICE cars during the analysis period. This adds considerable weight to the argument that EVs are not only better for the environment, with lower running costs, but also much safer to drive than fossil ICE cars.
Its important that IIHS used the same model cars in the study to compare electric and ICE, as it means they should have accounted for some of the current demographic differences between EV and ICE owners. We know that current EV drivers are more likely to be early-adopters with higher incomes and in the past affluence and demographics have been linked to a drivers insurance risk level, but the analysis approach taken by the IIHS should mean that some of these demographic differences are accounted for. However electric versions of a car are still often more expensive than the exact ICE equivalent and until price parity is achieved and more lower cost EVs go on sale, we will not be able to definitely answer this question.
Other reasons why the EVs studied were so much safer, include the fact that the vehicles large batteries make them heavier than ICE vehicles and as IIHS have already shown, occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multi-vehicle collisions. In addition to this, current EVs tend to have more safety technology installed as standard, such as forward collision avoidance systems and lane departure warnings.
The simple fact that many new EVs are achieving very high safety ratings in crash testing, should add even more confidence to consumers interested in the safety of EVs. To add to this the IIHS has also recently released their safety ratings for two new EVs, the Ford Mustang Mach-e and the Volvo XC40 Recharge, awarding them good safety ratings in all categories and designating them as ‘Top Safety Pick’ cars, see more details in the video below.
This is great news, not only because it adds another reason for consumers to choose an EV as their next car, but also for those of us who already entrust our own personal and families safety to EVs on a daily basis.