Will Electric Car Problems Be The End of Driver-less Cars?
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Dec 19, 2013 in Auto Accidents
Electric cars have been popular since the late 19th century, but began declining when advances in the internal combustion engine, along with cheaper gasoline vehicles were mass produced. However, the first electric car was manufactured in 1888, and was known as the German Flocken Elektrowagen. Nevertheless, electric cars have become popular once again, beginning in 2008.
While these vehicles have a bright future ahead of them, there are still a number of defects which have resulted in electric car accidents. One major cause of electrical car accidents began when the mass production of plug-in vehicles began in 2010. These vehicles would feature a lithium-ion battery, which was efficient, however by November 2013 there were four fires caused following collisions involving these electric cars in the United States alone.
Electric Car Fires
Since August 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been studying the potential of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars causing fires when they are involved in an accident. The research will compare and differentiate the use of a 400-volt lithium ion battery with the 12-volt lead-acid batteries used in most motor-vehicles. The study is set to conclude near the end of 2014.
The following vehicles have caught fire after being involved in an accident; some of which would lead to the recent research by the NHTSA regarding electric car safety:
- BYD e
- Chevrolet Volt
- Dodge Ram 1500 Plug-in Hybrid
- Fisker Karma
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV & Outlander P-HEV
- Tesla Model S
- Zotye M300 EV
Impact on Driver-less Cars
Most recently, Toyota has been under-fire regarding its uncontrolled acceleration while the driver uses cruise control. Once cruise control is set, the vehicle seems to continue accelerating, while the driver must apply the brakes, take their foot off the brake, then apply the brakes again to engage a safety feature to close the throttle.
Last year, a US government study would look at this unexplained cause of acceleration, which would note 62 percent of unexplained Toyota accidents were caused by drivers over the age of 65, and 41 percent involved drivers over the age of 75, leading many to believe a software bug was not the cause.
When comparing this to the Google's self-driving car, which has been tested for 500,000 miles and has been accident free, many look at this as an equivalent of the first six minutes of driving in the 400,000 Toyota Camry's sold in the U.S. every year. This incident alone may delay, or prevent, the dream of Google, GM, BMW, Mercedes, and other autonomous car manufacturers from ever coming true; considering the mass tort litigation against Toyota goes against their favor.