As the owner of a gasoline-electric hybrid, I live something of a sheltered life.
I can reap some of the benefits of driving an electric car, but unlike the driver of a full-electric vehicle or even a plug-in hybrid, I don’t spend much time thinking about the powerful battery I have onboard.
I know that concealed behind a panel in the trunk lies a 245-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, but it’s recharged as I drive, so I don’t have to plug anything in. The closest I come to interacting with the electric-drive technology is watching an animated power-flow schematic on my infotainment screen.
But as they say, knowledge is power.
And knowledge about power can be a life-and-death matter to the people responsible for keeping us safe.
Imagine what a first responder must consider when coming upon an accident involving an electrified vehicle of unknown design and specifications, one that might have high-voltage cables somewhere and a powerful lithium ion battery at risk of igniting, even reigniting long after the fire is doused.
We’ve prepared this issue of Shift because no discussion about electric vehicles is complete without an examination of the safety implications involved: topics such as how first responders are trained to deal with EVs; how batteries are tested; how they are kept from overheating during charging; how high-strength adhesives can help prevent battery damage; and what lessons the industry has learned from things that have gone wrong.
This magazine is also about the promise of the future. As such, we explore new technologies that could replace or improve today’s batteries, efforts to recycle valuable battery materials, even ways to make charging a car fun for consumers.
We’re in the midst of an electrification revolution. With all the improvements being made in EV performance and range — with all that power, if you will — comes a continued responsibility to make safety our top priority.