These features should be standard on every new EV.
Although many electric vehicles have been lauded for their strong safety structures that protect occupants in a crash, these battery-electric cars do carry a greater fire risk after a crash due to the use of high-voltage lithium-ion batteries. Chevrolet is currently embroiled in a large and expensive recall for Bolt EVs that can catch fire. The issue is exacerbated by firefighters who aren't trained to deal with an EV fire. One automaker that seems to be tackling the problem head-on is Renault. The company just revealed the stylish Megane E-Tech EV crossover and it comes with a few incredibly smart safety features to minimize fire risks.
For starters, the Megane has a new Fireman Access feature that stems from a decade-long partnership between the Renault Group and firefighters in France. Fireman Access is said to enable an EV fire to be extinguished in only five minutes, way down from the 1-3 hours it can take in another vehicle. Using a QR code on the windscreen, firefighters can quickly obtain valuable information about the structural information of the car, such as where the battery and airbags are placed, making it faster and easier to potentially extract a crash victim. Easy access to the battery itself allows rescue teams to extinguish flames as quickly as possible.
In addition, Renault has equipped its EV with a switch below the rear bench that allows rescuers to quickly and easily disconnect the battery from the car's high-voltage circuit. The QR code will appear on all Renault Group vehicles in Europe from 2022. It really is a brilliantly simple and effective use of technology, especially as more and more EVs populate our roads. EV giant Tesla sells thousands of vehicles each year but it too has faced issues with the Model S sedan which caught fire on more than one occasion. We'd love to see Renault's safety systems employed on other EVs and hybrids, and also included in safety evaluations of these vehicles by the relevant authorities.