The dangers of running off a typical country road at high speed and slamming into a tree have been highlighted by a shocking series of crash tests by a German safety authority.
The Dekra organisation launched a previous generation Nissan Leaf electric car into an immovable steel pole at 75km/h, something that bent it like a banana as the car succumbed to the immense impact energy.
The massive damage done to the city hatchback prompted researchers to conclude the chances of survival would have been “very slim”.
A similarly punishing frontal impact into the same pole at 84km/h – something thousands of Australian drivers risk every day in passing power poles and trees beside country roads with 100km/h speed limits – also destroyed the car.
Predictably, it also led to huge damage and created spectacular slow-speed footage as the car’s airbags exploded and the pole crunched metal and glass as headlights and other bits and pieces fell off.
The Dekra tests are far more severe than the tests conducted by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which designs its tests to be representative of common crashes around the world.
ANCAP’s side pole test, for example, is conducted at 32km/h, something that still highlights how susceptible to damage the side of vehicles are but doesn’t as dramatically highlight how much more severe higher speed side impacts can be.
Some of the frontal ANCAP tests involve crashing vehicles into deformable barriers designed to simulate crashing into other vehicles, which also crumple under the force of the impact.
But the pole tests that simulate hitting large trees or poles are far more severe, centring the crash energy on a very small part of the car.
For Australians the Dekra tests are a shocking demonstration of how much damage can be done at typical country road speeds.
The Dekra tests were all designed to evaluate the potential risks and safety systems of electric vehicles, something Dekra researcher Markus Egelhaaf said it comfortably passed.
“The damage patterns from the crash tests are comparable to those of conventionally powered vehicles,” says Egelhaaf.
He also praised the software systems that immediately eliminated any electrical risks, something of increasing concern as electric vehicle popularity surges.
“The high-voltage system in the electric vehicles was reliably shut down during the crash. And despite the fact that the drive battery was severely deformed, no fire broke out.”
He said Dekra’s tests showed EVs provided comparable safety to conventionally-powered vehicles.
“The major manufacturers of series-production electric vehicles have reached at least the same level of safety as combustion-engined cars,” said Egelhaaf.
Originally published as Horrific video shows real life danger