In an unprecedented move, Mercedes-Benz showcased a live crash test between two of its electric vehicles to address the public’s pressing safety concerns surrounding the emerging electric vehicle technology.
Going Beyond the Norm
Mercedes-Benz has a storied history of prioritizing vehicle safety, frequently conducting crash tests to ensure the highest standards. As the era of electric vehicles dawns, the brand wants to demonstrate that their commitment to safety remains unwavering. Contrary to the standard practices of using 1,400kg trolleys for frontal impacts, Mercedes chose to challenge their electric SUV, the EQS, weighing in at three tons, to collide with the 2.2-tonne EQA at 56kmh. This real-world scenario replicated a frequent accident type involving failed overtakes.
The aftermath painted a chaotic picture: shattered rims, deformed bodies, fluids spilling everywhere. Yet, data retrieved from the vehicle and crash dummies indicated that the safety mechanisms performed optimally. The ‘safety cell’ remained intact, ensuring minimal risk of serious injuries to potential occupants. Furthermore, Mercedes’ advanced eight-stage high voltage safety net automatically deactivated on impact, ensuring no further hazards.
The Changing Landscape of Vehicle Safety
Mercedes’s demonstration in Sindelfingen, Germany, wasn’t merely a spectacle; it marked an assertion. The intent was to broadcast that electric vehicles could hold their own in terms of safety when juxtaposed against their gasoline counterparts. Given the transformation of driving experiences due to electric vehicles—from silent drives to different refueling mechanisms—the constancy of safety standards remains paramount.
The brand’s ambition, dubbed “Vision Zero,” aims for zero fatalities in its cars by 2050. While Mercedes is steering towards an all-electric lineup in some regions by 2030, this shift isn’t merely for emission standards; safety is at the forefront. Innovations like crumple zones, pioneered by Mercedes in 1959, and new design strategies to protect EV batteries further underscore their commitment.
Challenges and Opportunities in EV Safety
The design of EVs brings forth unique challenges. With no engines upfront, redesigning the front end becomes essential, offering more creative freedom to engineers. The vehicle’s battery pack, akin to the fuel tank in traditional cars, demands protection to minimize fire risks. Mercedes, like many other automakers, places these battery packs beneath the vehicle floor, innovatively enhancing the structure for better side-impact absorption and battery safety.
Despite the added weight from battery packs, Mercedes engineers see the lowered center of gravity as a boon, enhancing side-impact and rollover crash-test performance.
Emphasizing Real-World Safety
Mercedes’s test was intense, with both cars meeting at 35 mph. The aftermath highlighted how Mercedes EVs can effectively dissipate impact forces, safeguarding occupants. The ease with which doors opened post-crash and the intact battery packs underlined the effectiveness of their safety systems.
Reaffirming Commitment to Progress
While this was just one test, it’s symbolic of the broader industry transition. As the automobile world stands on the brink of a seismic shift towards electrification, safety cannot be compromised. As we transition from gasoline engines to electric vehicles, the goal remains clear: ensuring no backward steps in vehicle safety.