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Automakers must take heed of NHTSA’s new battery safety initiative

With more electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, people are beginning to wonder whether the technology is safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is concerned, too.

This month, NHTSA announced it will be zeroing in on the risks of EVs with its new Battery Safety Initiative. To ensure future battery-powered vehicles are safe, the agency is set to conduct research, collect data and investigate incidents pertaining to EVs and wireless cars. NHTSA also plans “to take a closer look at fast-charging solutions and how companies test their development.”

The move by safety regulators comes after numerous incidents and reports of EVs igniting once involved in a crash. This is a serious concern for passenger safety, considering high-performance EVs are involved in 40% more accidents than gas-powered vehicles.

The increasing number of EV fires made an impact before automakers have managed to locate direct causes. Major automakers like BMW, Hyundai, GM and Tesla have all seen various effects, including tens of thousands of recalled cars and a federal investigation into the cause of the fires.

What automakers can do

NHTSA is making battery safety a priority, and it’s important that automakers carefully observe the agency’s investigations and updates from the initiative.

As more people begin to question the safety of EV batteries, automakers will have increased pressure from consumers and regulators to figure out a direct cause. Companies must work swiftly in collaboration with the agency to find a long-term solution.

Automakers also need to have an effective crisis plan in place, and soon. By staying prepared and up-to-date, companies will have the ability to address and control the situation themselves while keeping consumers safe and avoiding litigation.

As an industry-wide issue, it’s important for automakers to take a look at what competitors are doing to address and resolve issues, and to learn what does and doesn’t work.

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