First EV Tested by Latin NCAP Resulted in Zero 0 Stars "Environmentally Friendly But Life Risking"
Latin NCAP, published its first test results of an Electric Vehicle (EV). The JAC E10x, also called EJS1 and E-S1, showed a concerning zero-star performance. The safety assessment of Electric Vehicles is focused, as with internal combustion engine cars, on adults, children, pedestrian / Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) and driving assistance technologies, using the same Assessment Protocol independent of the powertrain. However, in the case of Battery Based Electric Vehicles (BEV) additional aspects like electric shock risk and battery cutoff systems are assessed. Also, during testing preparations, some other precautions need to be considered, for example, emergency electric cutoff switches placed in accessible access areas after the crash test.
Concerning safety regulations, it is the same as all other cars. Safety regulations in Latin American and the Caribbean could be stronger, at least 20 years behind Europe. This result reflects that as well considering that EVs, like any other car, should comply with the same safety regulations. There might be some extra requirements for EVs that are not required for internal combustion cars like the emergency cut off switch to prevent the risk of electric shock. The JAC did not cut its electric power after the frontal test, which should have been the case if the emergency cut off would have been present and working properly. Also in the side impact, the cut off system indicated that it was activated but the car could still be driven and moved, so the battery was still connected and running.
Some Technical considerations
BEVs are usually heavier than the same car with an internal combustion engine, affecting the dynamics in a crash test and driving performance. Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and other ADAS technologies are affected by a larger mass and different centre of gravity. Therefore, the structures need to be developed to keep their crashworthiness with a larger mass and to prevent damage to the batteries or any other source of energy for the electric powertrain. The larger mass as well as its position in the vehicle affects its dynamics in a crash test as well as its roadworthiness performance, it is likely that ESC, AEB and Lane Support Systems (LSS) might need to be set in a way that the version is the same with a heavier vehicle. Brakes and tires are also affected when the mass of a vehicle increases and the centre of gravity changes. The tires wear during ESC testing of the JAC was so severe that at one point, the assessments had to be stopped. As the assessment focus is the safety of occupants and VRU, the fact that the car has a different powertrain will not reflect special considerations in the assessment process, however it might soon bring new aspects to the assessments on top of the current ones like the need for EV audio warnings when there is no internal combustion engine.
Alejandro Furas, Latin NCAP Secretary General said:
“The electric version of the JAC E10x also called EJS1 or E-S1 is used as taxi in Mexico. Latin NCAP shares the environmental concerns around the globe and is in line with all relevant initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions, however this should not be a reason to overlook safety of vehicles. It should not be a question of “clean or safe” both aspects are relevant and should not compete one against the other. UN Sustainable Development Goals indicate safety as well as environmental both as key relevant aspects, for this reason an “environmentally friendly” condition should not over shadow the relevance of the vehicle’s safety. There are many models globally that have zero emissions and offer a much better safety performance than this model of JAC”.
David Ward, Executive President of the Towards Zero Foundation said,
“Achieving high standards in safety and environmental performance, are not mutually exclusive. There are some unique safety challenges in the shift to EVs but these can and must be addressed by the auto industry if the goal of zero road casualties and zero emissions is to be achieved.”
Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, said:
“It is deeply disappointing to see manufacturers tapping into the lucrative growth in the low-emission transport sector at the cost of safety. The harm caused by internal combustion vehicles is threefold - from violent injury in crashes, toxic air pollution, and the long-term climate impact – but improvement in one area should not come at the cost of another. Electric vehicles can and must be designed to be safe, clean and green."