• Oct 27th 2010 at 7:30PM
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Click above to watch the video after the jump

While a vocal gaggle of Birkenstock-wearing tree-huggers might be rambling on about how we need to replace the internal combustion engine overnight with EVs, we know that phasing out the automobile as we know them just isn't that simple.

Among the myriad stars you need to align in order for the electric car to enter the mainstream are such safety concerns as how emergency first responders will deal with electric vehicles in the event of an accident. High-voltage electric systems just don't behave the same in an accident as do combustible fuels. And the more EVs there are on the road, the more accidents involving them are bound to happen.

In order to address that eventuality, Chevrolet has taken its Volt around to training sessions for first responders to learn how to deal with the car's power systems in the event of an emergency, including how to disable the battery, how to sever the high-voltage cables and how to get an occupant out of a wrecked EV in an emergency. Chevrolet's being among the first, they've taken the initiative to get this EV safety ball rolling, but the lessons learned by paramedics, firefighters and the like will inevitably help as more EVs hit the road. Follow the jump to watch the video.

[Source: Chevrolet]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm an Electrical Engineer who has worked on Electric Vehicles (not the Volt). Some of what I say here is from my own experience, but I reckon should be essentially the same for the Volt.

      Here are some clarifications/confirmations:

      1. The "orange thing" is indeed a power/service disconnect used for not only emergency situations, but likely also when servicing the vehicle and the mechanic needs high voltage removed. It is orange because all harnesses carrying high voltage on Electric/Hybrid vehicles need to be orange per industry safety standards. This power/service disconnect is likely connected to an interlock system that disconnects the battery by opening the contactors (which are essentially large relays) which connect the battery to the vehicle.

      2. There are indeed multiple fuses as well that protect not only the battery pack itself, but also are placed to protect all high voltage components...such as A/C compressors, etc. All these components also connect into the interlock system mentioned above. Managing a lot of this is likely a battery management system that is looking at its own sensor data (cell temperature, cell voltage, ground isolation, etc) along with CAN messaging from components such as the ESC to determine fault conditions and act accordingly, such as disconnecting the battery.

      3. The poster who mentioned the robustness of the battery construction is absolutely correct. You can probably put a bomb next a EV battery and it would survive. The cells inside the battery are well protected. A side benefit of the battery is that it can lower the vehicle's center of gravity depending on placement, thus making the car handle better, and maybe preventing some accidents.

      Moral of the story: Electric and Hybrid vehicles are very safe, at least from the perspective of electrocution risk in an accident.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Did anyone watch the video....

      Am I to assume someone can break into the car remove the electric cap (orange block) inside the center console and render the car useless????
      (It doesn't say what that orange cap is, but that's what it looks like to me)

      To all the bashers, has Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc. do any outside training???
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh look, more Volt news.


        • 4 Years Ago
        That's not even true...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I never imagined that GT5 will be released AFTER the Volt!
      • 4 Years Ago
      "....including how to disable the battery, how to sever the high-voltage cables..."

      Lets hope GM told them to do it in that order.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @nicholiservia: no, they explode in a shower of bubbles and rainbows
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the problem now is knowing where the gas tanks are on 100s of gas powered car models.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i think the problem im more concerned is that in the future if we have 20 other ev models...do they need to learn all 20? or is there some standard now?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was at the Auto Show 2 yrs ago and was at the Fusion hybrid booth the same time as a firefighter group. they were there checking the cars to see how to get in, and were questioning electrical issues with the fusion hybrid. the spokesgirl had no idea but following them and listening to their take on cars made it one of the more interesting shows I've been to.

        So many things we dont even think about when a new design comes out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So when all of our vehicles are electric, will Michael Bay's movies still have as many explosions? I'd say he could run electrics into oil tankers, but there wouldn't be any tankers either. It will be a terrible time for Hollywood.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Perhaps there should be a plug in the Volt for defibrillator pads. Use the cars batteries as an alternative defibrillator power source, just in case.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just implement them into the seat belt.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chevy deserves credit for stepping up and making an effort to educate first responders on the next 'latest and greatest'.

      When the first Insights and Priuses hit the road, many firefighters were in the dark, or worse, misinformed on hazard identification and mitigation. Incredibly, as recent as a few years ago, there were still articles popping up about first responders apparently refusing to cut into hybrids in an extrication scenario. The reality is that the risk of electrocution is exceedingly remote. In the 11 years that hybrids have been in the US, there are no cases of electrocution of first responders. None. Honestly, there's a far greater hazard posed by the 10-15 gallons of gasoline in the tank.

      Without a doubt, this is a shrewd PR move on GM's part. But we all stand to gain from Chevy getting the right information distributed even before the first production models hit the streets.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No problem, bssplayr. For the most part, the concerns regarding hybrids and EVs involved in collisions are quite similar to more conventional vehicles. First step is size-up (how is the car wrecked, where are the vicitms in the car, etc). Then stabilization of the car. Next the car is put in park, parking brake on, and keys out of the ignition (removed from the car if there's a proximity key). Next the 12V battery is disconnected. This de-energizes the high voltage cabling and isolates the HV battery. After that has all happened, the rest of the rescue scenario is carried out like any other car.

        Since there's a main circuit breaker in the battery pack and the high voltage is a 'closed' system (the body isn't used to ground like many 12V setups), electrification of the body would be extremely unlikely, if not impossible. As far as battery acid leaks are concerned, there's more hazard in the regular 12V lead-acid battery. 'Older' hybrids use NiMH packs while the new generation uses Li-Ion. Both use alkaline electrolyte that is absorbed into the cell plates, leaving little or no liquid left to spill.

        There. Now you know more about hybrid and ev responses compared with most other bass players. ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hope you'll pardon my ignorance here, but hey...at least I'm willing to admit it...my question simply this: on such a vehicle, which would be a greater concern in a collision: electrification of the vehicle, or burns from battery acid leaking?
      • 4 Years Ago
      You mean "Plug-In Hybrid" Rescue? I thought Volt is not an EV? (sort of not really but maybe most of the time EV)

      It's like saying "I don't drink alcohol....... unless I run out of juice and bottle water at home, then if I am still thirsty then I may drink alcohol" That wouldn't really fly during the 1920's, when the American people were trying to cut down foreign alcohol dependency (Prohibition) to assist economic recovery from the Great Depression.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Plug-in hybrid isn't specific enough. You could use that to describe the next Prius, too, and it's a very different setup from the Volt. The Volt is a *lot* closer to being an EV than the Prius is.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good to see the safety lads giving it a once over.. Given my interest 'in' mobile electrical systems, I'm more curious to know about what the car does to protect itself from shorting in a major collision.. Are the batteries fused? Why are the cells contained 'in'? That sort of thing.. No worry about it for the audio systems I design and develop - I'd love to see the generals take on things...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Even if the orange thing is a disconnect, power is delivered to the front of the vehicle - surely there is some sort of sped control under the hood.. I'd just like to see what's protecting it..

        Nit saying it's not done right - I just want to see how it's done.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The battery is definitely fused. I'm pretty sure that orange thing in the video was a giant fuse.

        Also, since the battery itself is so central to the vehicle, any impact strong enough to damage it will be utterly catastrophic anyways (we're talking breaking the car in half), in which case the occupants are likely already dead. I remember reading somewhere that GM crashed a volt into a barricade at 35mph and absolutely nothing happened to the battery.
      • 4 Years Ago
      MacGyver could make a whole hospital out of a Volt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Some say the Stig can beat the Nürburgring lap record in a Volt.
        Chuck Norris can make all the LA traffic go away in a Volt. Of course he's too busy kicking butt.
        Bob Lutz can get 150 miles on battery alone in a Volt before the gas engine kicks in.

        I like these lol
        • 4 Years Ago
        more than you know. check this out from last year

      • 4 Years Ago
      what's next hours volt story going to be?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Right after the Ford Mustang, how wonderful Toyota is, and finally the latest Audi or Mercedes iteration stories.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't be a dork, this is a really good story, one that personally I hadn't thought of. I mean, it makes total sense and seems so simple, but stuff like this is easy to forget. Glad to see Chevrolet is taking the initiative to get the knowledge out there. In a lot of ways, an EV is much more dangerous for emergency workers because on a traditional automobile all they have to worry about is the gas tank, which is basically always in the same place, and the wimpy little 14v battery that is either under the hood or in the trunk. Cutting into a battery or a high voltage line with a jaws of life could mean the end for all involved.

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