Biased study, false crash, excuses: AXA’s bad-buzz in the face of the electric car

But what fly could she have bitten the insurer Axa to be so angry with the nascent electric car market?

Electric car accidents: new risks for road safety? The Swiss branch has indeed published a pseudo-comparative study, tending to prove that EV drivers cause more accidents than others

Biased study, fake crash, excuses: AXA's bad buzz  the electric car

Drivers of electric cars cause 50% more collisions causing damage to their own vehicle than owners of traditional combustion models

L’article, always online at the time of writing these lines, even carried out a crash test supposed to prove the dangerousness of these vehicles, with explosions, fires and everything. A Tesla Model S was even sacrificed to prove to our Swiss friends how dangerous these powerful models loaded with kWh were to drive in the event of an accident:

As part of the new annual crash tests, AXA accidentology researchers demonstrate the causes and consequences for road safety.

Except that… this famous crash-test was totally bogus. The car in the video has had its built-in battery removed and the flames and the explosion actually comes from… pyrotechnic effects… a real Hollywood scenario!

Faced with the bad-buzz caused, the insurer was obliged to apologize via press release:

During the simulation of an accident in which an electric car catches fire, we had to take measures to ensure the safety of the public. Thus, the test car had no battery and the fire was started remotely. In addition, the crash test carried out with a model of the Tesla brand did not cause damage to the underbody of the car likely to trigger a battery fire, contrary to what the recorded images might suggest. This test therefore did not confirm this accident scenario. We should have explicitly mentioned this fact in the communication following the test, in particular in the press release and in the images provided.

Axa even confirms (it’s lunar!) that the risk of fire is not greater for an EV than a VT – what the video however suggested. Moreover, a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), EVs have a rate of 25 fires per 100,000 vehicles, compared to 1,530 for VTs and 3,475 for the hybrids.

In retrospect, this test intended to illustrate a supposed risk should have been designed differently. We made it clear in our press release that, according to statistics from AXA Switzerland, electric cars are no more prone to fire than conventional combustion vehicles. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the published images give a different impression when taken out of context.

Finally, even more serious, the assertion that EV drivers cause significantly more accidents than their thermal equivalents… does not take into account the category, the power or the price of the vehicle. Given the few models currently on offer (and the majority of vehicles with high prices and power), comparing 500CV models with Clio Diesel does not really make sense. As the note by the way Caradisiac, the study contains a table (quite incomplete, because it is noted “expensive and / or powerful”) by category and there, the difference between vehicle types fades noticeably (even if it remains against EVs):

Biased study, fake crash, excuses: AXA's bad buzz  the electric car

In short, even if it seems obvious that the arrival of the electricity fairy and its immediate torque must undoubtedly be apprehended by new conductors (EVs are still rare in driving schools), one wonders what interest an insurer has in organizing such a scene, at a time when air pollution is becoming a global issue.