Gets better with age: EVs might get considerably safer on the road as older EV batteries are much less prone to catching fire due to their reduced charge capacity | Photo: Arc Publishing

Austria: EV batteries’ risk of fire lessens with age

New research from Austria’s University of Graz found that the risk of EV batteries catching fire decreases with age, thus making them safer the longer they are in operation. Technically labelled a “thermal runaway”, the risk of fire incidence in the older batteries drops with their lower potential to hold charge, and they are also mechanically stiffer due to the repeated charging and discharging cycles they undergo over thousands of kilometers. 

Accidental fires have been a safety issue in EVs — the Hyundai Kona EV, for instance, will no longer sell in its home country of South Korea after 13 fire incidents — but the new findings were derived through crash tests and heavy vibrations and acceleration to prove the safety of the older batteries. 

Uber inks deal with Arrival to develop ride hailing-specific EV

Uber teamed up with London-based EV platform manufacturer Arrival to develop an electric car for the specific use of ride sharing, and the car will be first used in London as part of Uber’s Clean Air Plan. Design input on the car will be sought from Uber’s network of drivers, who may also be assisted in getting financial assistance to upgrade their current vehicles to EVs. Uber plans to fully electrify its London fleet by 2025, and the rest of the UK, Europe and the US by 2030. 

In China, too, top ride sharing service Didi Chuxing teamed up with BYD last year to develop the D1 — an electric car specifically designed for the practicalities of short haul, shared mobility. Its features include sliding doors (to prevent occupants from dooring cyclists or other cars in tight spaces), and generous legroom in the back seat. 

Bosch chastises EU’s “fixation” with EVs

IC engine ignition and fuel systems maker Bosch came down with heavy criticism of the EU’s apparent “fixation” with the electric vehicle, saying that “climate action is not about the end of the internal-combustion engine”. The components manufacturer is a world leader in making spark plugs and fuel systems, and has even insisted that modern petrol and diesel engines do not have any appreciable impact on air quality. Its criticism may also be directed towards the proposed Euro-7 fuel standards, which would impose far heavier limitations on emissions from combustion engines in Bosch’s primary markets and make it difficult for the technology to survive for much longer. 

Interestingly, Bosch has invested €5 billion into EV technologies, but plans to stay committed to the IC engine for at least 20-30 years. 

USA: 20% of Americans discontinuing use of EVs 

A survey conducted between 2015-2019 found that one in five Americans (about 20%) discontinued the use of their EVs over two issues: driving range and lack of access to level 2 home charging. The study found that only about 29% of the respondents who discontinued their EVs to switch back to gasoline had level 2 home charging (which charges EVs faster) — even though they had few complaints when it came to the EVs’ on-road reliability, safety and charging costs. 

Also, the UC Davis survey found that Tesla and GM EV owners held on to their vehicles the most — only 11% and 14.2% of the group switching back to gasoline cars, respectively — and the rate of discontinuation was curiously lower in women.

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