AXA cracks and sets fire to a Tesla to warn of the dangers of electric cars

The insurer AXA has just published a complete survey on the risks of accidents in electric cars compared to petrol and diesel cars. Risk of fire, too high power, driving aid technologies: everything goes there to disentangle the true from the false. But with a practical methodology that is dubious to say the least.

Accident Tesla – 00003September 3 update

: In A press release, the insurer AXA apologizes for the poor reception of this video, indicating that the intention was not to make people believe that electric cars had a greater risk of fire than their petrol or diesel counterparts. Before adding ” nevertheless, we must recognize that the images published give a different impression when taken out of context“. We salute this communication which tends to put out the fire…

Original article from August 31

: Prejudices die hard! Some people are convinced that the electric cars are more likely to catch fire than a thermal car, when the statistics say otherwise. But public figures do not help, like Elisabeth Borne who thought that one of the mega-fires in Gironde this summer came from an electric car fire. The insurer AXA has just realized a great survey to try to see it more clearly.

The fire risks for electric cars

Good news: the insurer confirms the meaning of previous studies. To know thatan electric car is no more likely to catch fire than a thermal car. On the other hand, in the event of fire, this is more spectacular due to the thermal runaway of the cells constituting the battery.

To demonstrate this, AXA used some really strange tricks. A Tesla Model S more than 6 years old, pulled by a cable connected to a Tesla Model X, passing over a springboard before overturning and catching fire. But the fire was false and came from pyrotechnic products as can be seen in the video below, while the vehicle’s battery had been previously removed.

But no more risk of accident in electrical!

The other lesson learned from the study does not really go in the direction of electric cars. According to AXA accidentology data, electric cars would have 50% more chance of being involved in an accident. The reason is very simple: for the moment, the vast majority of electric cars are equipped with a very powerful engine, with a high torque available instantly.

This is what AXA calls theover bottlingor involuntary accelerationan example of which is the accident in Paris of a taxi in Tesla Model 3 who was driving at more than 100 km/h while losing control of his vehicle. Besides, Tesla’s Autopilot helps prevent 40 accidents a day : when the driver confuses the brake pedal with the accelerator pedal. And with almost 300 horsepower on the least powerful version Model 3, such an error can be fatal.

The future democratization of electric cars should reduce this problem, since the more affordable electric vehicles content themselves with engines that are less powerful and less torquey 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. Electric cars are often safer than their thermal counterparts thanks to the battery which acts as protection, but also to the absence of a motor at the front which allows to have a larger crumple zone as can be seen with the various crash-tests.

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

But in a collision with another user, this extra weight causes more damage, as evidenced by the example of AXA with two Golf VII from Volkswagen: 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 (more than 2000 kg) causes on average 10% more material damage than a light vehicle (less than 1000 kg) ».

Recent cars are safer in the event of a collision

Conversely, the newer the car, the lower the risk of injury in the event of a collision: “compared to a modern car, the risk of bodily injury increases by 20% with a vehicle over ten years old“. And that’s without taking into account the fact that the risk of collision is lower, thanks to active safety devices such as emergency braking or automatic evasive maneuvers like at Tesla.

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