Some of the more colorful conservative media would have us believe that EVs are exploding death traps, while Tesla and other EV makers insist that they are actually far safer than ICE vehicles. The truth, according to the top US auto-safety regulator, lies somewhere in between.
“We believe they don’t pose any greater risks than gasoline-fueled vehicles,” David Friedman, Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), told Bloomberg in an interview at the Detroit Auto Show. “Do they pose different risks? Certainly.”
NHTSA is currently investigating two Model S fires in the US that resulted from battery packs being punctured by road debris. Tesla has also been the subject of an official recall, after several incidents involving overheating wall plugs (although customers don’t have to take their vehicles to a service center). Friedman said Tesla is doing a good job responding to regulators’ requests for information.
A NHTSA team of engineers and consumer analysts is studying EVs, said Friedman. “People aren’t used to the new challenges that electric vehicles pose,” he said. “We’re taking this issue seriously. We want to make sure electric vehicles are safe.”