xEVs involved in incidents present unique hazards associated with the high voltage system (including the battery system). These hazards can be grouped into 3 categories: chemical, electrical, and thermal. The potential consequences can vary depending on the size, configuration and specific battery chemistry. Other incidents may arise from secondary events such as garage fires and floods. These types of incidents are also considered in the recommended practice (RP). This RP aims to describe the potential consequences associated with hazards from xEVs and suggest common procedures to help protect emergency responders, tow and/or recovery, storage, repair, and salvage personnel after an incident has occurred with an electrified vehicle. Industry design standards and tools were studied and where appropriate, suggested for responsible organizations to implement.
Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries used for vehicle propulsion power are the assumed battery systems of this RP. These battery chemistries are the prevailing technologies associated with high voltage vehicle electrification today and the foreseeable future. The hazards associated with these specific battery chemistries are addressed in this RP. Other chemistries and alternative propulsion systems including Fuel Cells are not considered in this version of SAE J2990.
Electrification of the vehicle industry is increasing at a rapid pace with many countries adopting goals for increasing the number of electrified vehicles (xEVs), including a US goal of having one million PHEV's on the road by 2015 and China’s goal of 500 000 new energy vehicles in production by the end of 2015. This new propulsion technology in the automotive sector has raised concerns for these vehicles when involved in severe crashes because of the potential consequences associated with new hazards from the high voltage systems on board. While the high voltage system, under most crash situations, is likely to be protected and maintain electrical isolation from the rest of the vehicle, a rare but possible severe crash may compromise some of the safety features of the high voltage system. Due care needs to be taken when working around the electrified propulsion systems and components or charging systems, regardless of their condition.
Some progress has been made in educating first responders about safe procedures when working around xEVs involved in crashes. However, considerable work is needed to develop common and consistent procedures for emergency responders across the automotive industry. In addition, further effort is needed to identify and address the consequences of the new hazards associated with xEVs for second responders consisting of tow, storage, repair and salvage personnel.