“It’s immensely important to carry out collision tests when working with new alternative drivelines. In the hybrid truck, the battery pack is fitted at the side of the vehicle and we must be absolutely sure that the technology is safe,” explains Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.
Car rams into the battery pack
The Volvo FE Hybrid is propelled in parallel by an electric motor and a diesel engine, making possible fuel savings of up to 30 percent. The hybrid model, which will primarily perform distribution and refuse collection duties in urban areas, was tested by simulating a collision in which a car hits the side of the battery pack at a speed of 46 kilometres an hour.
“This is a common accident type in city traffic, where this type of truck will see most service. The scenario is a car that goes through a red light and drives into the side of a truck,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
The battery pack weighs 578 kilograms and the battery itself weighs 232 kg. The electrical system operates on 600 Volts.
Volvo had never previously carried out a crash test on a hybrid truck. That is why the event was attended not only by collision engineers but also experts from the engine, transmission and electrical departments.
“We decided to carry out the test during the 45 seconds that the battery is being charged. That is when most current passes through the system and we can obtain the ultimate test result,” says Ulf Torgilsman, who is in charge of crash tests at Volvo Trucks.
After the 1600 kg car sled hit the battery pack, the assembled engineers saw that the installation met all expectations. The built-in safety system shut off all activity in the battery pack.
“The test ran perfectly and everything worked exactly as planned. We saw that the battery pack is immensely stable. No thermal energy was generated, there were no fires, no fluids leaked out, the electrical system remained intact and it shut down exactly as it was supposed to do,” says Ulf Torgilsman after the crash-test.
The test demonstrated two main things: that the battery pack withstands a collision without causing a fire, and that the car driver is not injured by the battery pack. Carl Johan Almqvist says that the crash-test shows that the battery is entirely secure from the traffic safety viewpoint.
“We feel now that we can release this product onto the market secure in the knowledge that it is safe, just like all Volvo products always have to be,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
May 25, 2011
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