Are electric cars really more dangerous in the event of an accident?

Insurer AXA has just published a comprehensive survey on the risks of accidents in electric cars compared to gasoline and diesel cars. Risk of fire, very high power, driving aid technologies: everything serves to separate the real from the fake.

Prejudices die hard! Some people are convinced that electric cars are more likely to catch fire than a thermal car, while statistics say otherwise. But public figures don’t help, like Elisabeth Borne, who thought one of the mega fires in the Gironde this summer came from an electric car fire. AXA insurer has just conducted a major survey to try to see more clearly.

Fire hazards for electric cars

Good news: the insurer confirms the significance of previous studies. to know thisan electric car is no more prone to catching fire than a thermal car. On the other hand, in the event of a fire, this is more spectacular due to the lack of thermal control of the cells that make up the battery.

To demonstrate this, AXA used some really weird tricks. A 6-year-old Tesla Model S, pulled by a cable connected to a Tesla Model X, passed through a trampoline before flipping over and catching fire. But the fire was fake and originated from pyrotechnics as can be seen in the video below.

But there is no more risk of accident in electric!

The other lesson learned from the study doesn’t really go in the direction of electric cars. In fact, according to AXA accidentology data, electric cars 50% more chance of being involved in an accident. The reason is very simple: at the moment, the vast majority of electric cars are equipped with a very powerful engine, with high torque available instantly.

What does AXA callovertakingWhere involuntary acceleration, as evidenced by the accident in Paris of a Tesla Model 3 taxi traveling at more than 100 km/h when it lost control of the vehicle. In addition, Tesla’s Autopilot prevents 40 accidents a day: when the driver mistakes the brake pedal for the accelerator pedal. And with nearly 300 horsepower on the less powerful version of the Model 3, that mistake can be fatal.

The future democratization of electric cars should reduce this problem, as more affordable electric vehicles make do with less powerful engines and less torque than the large sedans and SUVs that serve as a technological showcase for manufacturers.

The risk of being overweight

On the other hand, another point is raised by the study: the weight of electric cars. It is true that the battery adds weight to the vehicle, which translates into potentially more serious consequences for other road users in the event of an accident. Indeed, Electric cars are often safer than their thermal counterparts thanks to the battery that acts as protection, but also to the absence of a front engine that allows it to have a larger deformation zone, as can be seen in the various crash tests.

An electric golf (left) facing a thermal golf (right)

But in a collision with another user, this extra weight does more damage, as the example of AXA with two Volkswagen Golf VIIs attests: the first thermal and the second electric, with an overweight of 400 kg. The latter is much less deformed than the Thermal Golf. Statistics confirm this: a very heavy private car (over 2,000 kg) causes on average 10% more material damage than a light vehicle (less than 1,000 kg)“.

Newer cars are safer in the event of a collision

On the other hand, the newer the car, the lower the risk of injury in the event of a collision: ” compared to a modern car, the risk of personal injury increases by 20% with a vehicle over ten years old“. And that’s not to mention that the risk of a collision is lower, thanks to active safety devices, such as emergency braking or automatic evasion maneuvers like in Tesla.

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