Battery electric trucks are becoming a more common sight on our roads. With safety at the core of Volvo Trucks, the company’s electric trucks are developed to be just as safe as all other trucks. One important safety aspect is crashworthiness, which is about developing vehicles that are resistant to the effects of a collision.
“Volvo’s electric trucks have the same cabs as our traditional diesel trucks, which have been thoroughly tested to ensure they are crashworthy. The electric trucks also have the same advanced safety features that are designed to prevent accidents from happening in the first place,” says Anna Wrige Berling, Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
Battery electric trucks have their own specific safety challenges, mainly concerning the electromobility system which includes a 600V battery. The risk of shortcuts and chemical leakage from the system needs to be minimized.
Volvo uses rigorous calculations, virtual simulations as well as full-scale crash tests to verify the safety of the electric trucks in the event of a crash.
“The calculations and virtual simulations are the foundation when we develop and verify a safe design for our electric trucks. In this way, we can test a variety of scenarios and parameters digitally. To verify the results from the simulations, we also conduct full-scale crash tests of the trucks,” says Anna Wrige Berling.
The crash tests simulate real traffic situations with the objective to verify requirements regarding electrical, chemical and fire safety.
“The purpose of the full-scale crash tests is to minimize the risk of fire and chemical leakage by verifying that the batteries and electric components stay in place in a crash, and that the high voltage system switches off,” she explains.
Three types of full-scale crash tests have been carried out on the Volvo FM Electric. The results of the tests confirm the positive results from the virtual simulations.
Side collision test. In this test a trolley, simulating a passenger car, crashes into the side of the truck, where the batteries are installed. The test verifies that battery packs, with their modules and cells, are well protected and stay in place even when exposed to heavy force.
Roll-over test. Here, the truck is forced to roll over – a common truck accident. The purpose is to verify that the high voltage system switches off, to minimize the safety risks for the driver and for the rescue team.
Barrier test. The barrier test is a collision where the truck crashes into a barrier, simulating the rear of another truck. The electric truck is tested to make sure that the electric installations and components under the cab stay in place, and that there are no shortcuts leading to fire or other hazardous situations.
Volvo Trucks is the first global truck manufacturer to have a full range of electric trucks in series production.
“As forerunners, we have a great responsibility to ensure that the shift to fossil free, electric transport is done without compromising on safety – for drivers, rescue teams and for all other road users,” says Anna Wrige Berling, Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
Learn more about our safety work and our electric trucks.