Last November saw the Chevrolet Volt came under attack from political conservatives who jumped on an NHTSA investigation into the Volt’s battery packs. Despite GM developing a “fix” for the battery fire, and the NHTSA giving the Volt the all-clear, the damage was done. So it is no surprise to me that after seeing what happened to the Volt that French automaker Renault has gone above and beyond normal crash testing, sending almost 100 of its Zoe electric cars into the wall…in the name of SCIENCE! Erm, I mean safety.
Extreme Testing For Electric Vehicles
Based on the Nissan Leaf, but utilizing a battery leasing option, the Renault Zoe EV stands to present a truly viable and affordable EV for the European masses. Renault has already laid claim to the most miles traveled in an electric car in 24 hours, but Renault is also investing a lot of time and money into safety. I’m sure Renault saw the witch hunt led by GOP politicians against the Chevy Volt, which experienced a single battery fire almost three weeks after the completion of crash testing. That one fire led to a months-long investigation and untold “news” stories on Volt battery problems.
To that end, Renault has put nearly 100 Zoe EV’s through the paces, sending into the wall at high speed in order to test their strength…and the strength of the battery pack. Modern cars are remarkably safe, and the Zoe EV is no different, as the first crash at 40 mph shows. The rigidity of the car is impressive, and the airbags deploy before the crash test dummies even know they’re in an accident.
But what about the battery? That’s something that can really only be tested in the real world, and unfortunately for GM and the Volt, they served as the first scapegoat in anti-EV politic, despite extensive testing of the car and battery system for years before the Volt went on sale. Hopefully other automakers will be able to avoid the same pitfalls, unfair though they may be…and it looks like Renault is on the right track.