Questions answered simply
Can an electric vehicle burn? Is charging safe in the rain? And what has to be taken into account when towing? Many questions relating to safety come up when talking about electric mobility. You will find the answers here.
Safety rules when dealing with a high-voltage system
Those hazards which are largely present in certified electric vehicles are comparable with those in vehicles with other drive systems (fuel, gas).
Safety measures when charging
Circuit breakers both in the battery and in the fully isolated charging cable ensure safe charging in the rain. The charging process does not start unless both cable connectors are securely connected and it has been checked on the part of the vehicle and the infrastructure that a secure connection has been made. Current will only flow then, making charging safe even in the rain.
As during any thunderstorm, remaining unprotected outdoors and having any contact with electrical equipment should be avoided. Damage to the vehicle’s internal electrical circuits and to the charging station may result in cases of lightning strikes to the car or in its surrounding area. Charging stations therefore generally have overvoltage protection. It is best to ask the operator of the charging station about the presence of suitable protective devices.
No. There is no increased risk of receiving an electric shock in water thanks to numerous safeguards in the high-voltage system.
No. For this to happen you must be in contact with both poles – that is to say, the positive and negative cable. The high-voltage battery system also contains numerous safeguards for the prevention of an electric shock.
Where it has been installed in an expert manner, the charging station is integrated into the electrical safety concept of the whole house.
No. Because the plug is designed in such a way that a finger is unable to normally reach the plug contacts. However, it is much more important that the current flow does not begin until a “hand-shake procedure” has taken place through the cable communication line. Thus, the current is only released if the plug is firmly inserted in the vehicle and both the car and the wall box have checked and confirmed the connection.
The cable is firmly fixed both in the wall box and in the vehicle during the entire charging process and is only able to suffer a break through the use of enormous force. Should this nevertheless happen, it is safer than if a cable should break out of the wall in your house. Because the wall box and vehicle both detect the interruption to their connection and switch off the current as quickly as possible and in accordance with internationally recognised safety standards.
Yes. It is very dangerous! It is equally as dangerous as if you would, for example, cut through the electric cable to your television set. So, please on no account do this!
Should, however, the cable be completely cut through, both the vehicle and the wall box detect the interruption to their connection and switch off the current as quickly as possible and in accordance with internationally recognised safety standards.
A power cut can only occur in the worst case if your charging station has not been connected in an expert manner. However, so that you do not end up sitting in the dark at all, our comprehensively trained electricians are at your disposal during the installation and will advise you in the best possible manner. And this will happen before you have charged your vehicle for the first time. The wall box additionally has safety functions for the prevention of power cuts. Only a few additional components and some simple actions during the installation are required for this.
Flammability of an electric vehicle and extinguishing methods
Yes. Vehicle fires are possible as is also the case with conventional vehicles. A low residual risk of a delayed outbreak of fire additionally exists for electric vehicles. In particular, if damage occurs to the high-voltage battery in which the electrical and chemical energy is stored. The solid and liquid chemicals inside it may burn. However, the lithium metal will not burn.
That depends on the individual case. A fire in an electric vehicle can be mastered using appropriate methods for extinguishing as applied by the fire service.
As the extinguishing process is also dependent on the situation, procedures should be carried out as for a normal vehicle fire. When doing this it is important to observe the information on the rescue cards.
No. A fire may be immediately extinguished using water. At the most, the water jet causes a local short-circuit on the possibly open high-voltage system, but no current flows into the water jet. And, as no elemental lithium is fitted in lithium-ion batteries, the contact with the water is also in this context no problem.
Toxic gases and smoke are released during any fire. A safe distance should therefore always be maintained to a burning vehicle. The fire service, too, acts against a battery fire using appropriate breathing apparatus as would be done for a conventional vehicle fire.
Procedures should be followed when fighting a fire on an electric vehicle as with a conventional vehicle.
Comparable dangers are presented by a fire in an electric vehicle as by that in a vehicle powered by a conventional drive system. Decisive factors for the release of smoke and heat are, in addition to the battery and fuel, all those materials fitted in the vehicle. Therefore, the course of action of the fire service does not need to vary from the normal procedure in this case. A general rule applies: underground car parks must be vacated immediately where burning vehicles are present.
In individual cases the usage of multi-storey and underground car parks are prohibited for electric vehicles. Our safety investigations have, however, shown no cause for such restrictions. But the final decision is at the discretion of each individual operator.
Generally not. Ultimately, the electromagnetic fields which are generated during operation are already taken into account in the planning of new vehicles. They are designed in such a way that even adverse effects experienced by especially sensitive people, such as those with medical implants, are minimised.
Safety during breakdowns and accidents
An electric vehicle may be towed away by an appropriate specialist company. More exact information may be obtained from the operating manual. Special safety measures must be observed when parking after a fire.
The following applies for electric or hybrid vehicles involved in an accident: they must be parked outdoors in a closed-off area for fire safety reasons – at a sufficient distance to other cars, buildings, flammable objects and surfaces. The parking of an electric or hybrid vehicle with a damaged battery system in an enclosed building is not recommended under any circumstances.
In addition, specific manufacturer instructions such as rescue cards must be observed. If the high-voltage components of electric or hybrid vehicles involved in an accident are directly exposed to weather conditions, they must be covered by a weatherproof tarpaulin and marked appropriately. This must be observed in particular for vehicle deliveries outside working hours.
Electric or hybrid vehicles involved in an accident must be securely parked in accordance with local quarantine regulations until re-igniting is no longer probable. Both the duration and further procedures – such as removal, repair or disposal – always vary from case to case and are determined by a high-voltage expert.
As for any accident, all occupants should leave the vehicle without delay and proceed to a safe location. The usual necessary safety and cordoning-off precautions must be undertaken.
After an accident, a fire may begin immediately, with a delay or in some cases not until even after some days – in particular if the battery has been damaged during the accident. The accident site must therefore always be secured, and all people involved brought to safety.
This is highly unlikely but may not be entirely ruled out, in particular in cases of severe accidents. If the system detects an accident in which the airbags have been triggered, the high-voltage battery and electrical system are automatically disconnected from each other. In addition, the vehicles are fitted with several varied safety mechanisms:
1. The entire high-voltage system is designed to be protected against contact.
2. The high-voltage system is also completely isolated from the vehicle body – a so-called electrical isolation.
3. The high-voltage system is immediately deactivated in cases of severe accidents involving the triggering of airbags.
The exact procedure is described in detail once more in the relevant rescue cards.
All ID. models are especially secured by an underbody guard.