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Electric Vehicles

October 26 2021

Electric Vehicles [EVs] is a generic term encompassing all vehicles that are powered, in part or in full, by a battery. There are four main types:

  • Pure Electric Vehicles [Pure EVs] are powered only by a battery, charged by plugging into mains electricity. Mileage range generally exceeds 100 miles, with some in excess of 200 miles.
  • Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles [PHEVs] have a battery range of about 25 to 50 miles and an internal combustion engine [ICE], which the vehicle reverts to once the battery range is exhausted. There are both petrol and diesel PHEVs.
  • Extended-Range Electric Vehicles [E-REVs] are powered by a battery, but the range is extended by an ICE-driven generator.
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles [HEVs] are powered by a battery and / or an ICE. The battery cannot be plugged in to be charged with mains electricity. Charge is maintained by regenerative braking [energy is taken from braking and used to re-charge the battery] and, where necessary, an ICE-driven generator.
  • Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles [MHEV] offer electrical assistance to the vehicle’s ICE, although the battery is not powerful enough for the car to run on electric power alone.

Other non-ICE vehicles are available such as Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.

By 2030, all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from sale in the UK, with only certain new hybrid vehicles allowed to be sold until 2035. After 2035, the only new cars and vans that will be able to be sold will be Pure EVs. Second-hand cars are unaffected by the ban. However, this effectively heralds the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Considerable investment is required in the EV-charging infrastructure, including charging points at homes and workplaces, on streets and at shopping centres, and at service stations on the motorway. Fast or rapid charging points are becoming more widely available, making longer journeys possible and EVs more viable.

Compared with conventional ICE vehicles, EVs can achieve similar speeds and superior acceleration rates. They are currently more expensive than their conventional counterparts, although this divide is reducing as their running costs fall. They benefit the environment through reduced emissions at source, and the expansion of congestion and emissions charges and exemptions in road tax will further encourage motorists to drive ‘greener’ vehicles. Incentives such as being allowed to use bus lanes and free parking in cities may also be introduced.

Time will tell how the growth in electric vehicles will affect the numbers and types of Road Traffic Incidents in the UK and indeed the casework that we see at KBC. Manufacturers are keen to reassure the public that electric vehicles are as safe as conventional ones and articles are beginning to appear in the press. We anticipate concerns regarding:

  • Lower noise emissions and the danger that this poses to pedestrian safety, although there are now legal requirements for new electric vehicles to be fitted with acoustic sound systems to prevent them from being too silent.
  • Safety of the high voltage batteries used to power EVs.
  • Driver-assist functions and advanced driver-assist functions are also more becoming more prevalent, such as Collision Mitigation Braking Systems. However, these may not activate in certain conditions e.g. poor weather.
  • Lithium batteries have potential to cause serious fires or even explosions, which may change how accidents are investigated.

Drivers will need to embrace this shift in technology, which may involve learning to drive a significantly different vehicle to their current one. For example, pure EVs do not have gears. There may also be challenges in adjusting to new dashboard screen interfaces and the selection of certain vehicle functions, vehicle charging and changes to the environment. As the technology is introduced, many drivers may need to be retrained, including myself!

Rest assured, KBC’s team of Collision Investigators and Vehicle Examiners will keep abreast of this new technology and published research. For more information regarding electric vehicles and driver-assist functions, as well as all of your Collision Investigation queries, please contact us.


Hayley Ash

Dr Hayley Ash

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