Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric minicar crash-tested by ADAC, December 2010, screen captureEnlarge Photo
Electric vehicles are as different when crashed as they are when moving, and that difference has led to changes in procedure for first responders to accident scenes.
Police, fire and other services now receive training in order to deal with high-voltage systems in crashed electric and hybrid vehicles--but with more on the roads, the new challenge is knowing which vehicle is which.
SAE recommends that relevant vehicles feature inch-high letters or badges on both sides and the rear of the vehicle, visible to first responders from at least 50 feet away.
Failing this, vehicles should feature distinctive lettering in the dashboard area, which rescuers can see through the windshield.
While vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are fairly high-profile electric vehicles, it may be more difficult for emergency personnel to determine whether more traditional cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are battery-assisted.
The suggestions are highlighted in SAE's Hybrid and EV First and Second Responder Recommended Practice report. The report also recommends quick reference guides to electric cars and hybrids, and even guidance for tow-truck operators on handling the vehicles, among other suggestions.
If such ideas were to go into practice it would be bad news for those wishing to keep their electric or hybrid profile low--but for first responders, it could be the difference between life and death.