U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit Summary Report

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit - Summary Report" (PDF, 6 MB)
Author: Casey C. Grant, P.E., Fire Protection Research Foundation
Date of issue: October 2010 


Electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles are seeing resurgence on U.S. roadways. As new vehicles based on electrical power sources proliferate, questions exist as to how well the current codes and standards adequately address all the safety concerns relating to these new vehicles, their components, and the supporting technology in the built infrastructure.

The U.S. National Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit was held on 21-22 October 2010 in Detroit Michigan to address safety related codes and standards issues. The Summit focused on the fundamental codes and standards centric areas of: vehicles; built infrastructure; and emergency responders.

The purpose of the Summit was to develop the base elements for an action plan for the safe implementation of electric vehicles, and using safety standards as the primary mechanism for this action plan. Specifically, the objectives of the event were the following: identify the relevant fire and electrical safety codes, standards and specifications; identify gaps in these codes, standards and specifications; identify related gaps in research, training, or communications which stem from OEM safety manual development and deployment; and develop the base elements for an action plan for necessary standards development and associated deployment activities to fill these gaps.

The Summit provided an important venue for the gathering of key individuals, organizations and agencies to develop a common knowledge to ensure that fire and electrical safety standards that impact electric vehicles will not serve as a barrier to their deployment. As a result, the information gathered throughout the Summit has revealed the following key areas where further focused attention is warranted:

  • charging infrastructure;
  • understanding battery hazards;
  • vehicle features that address concerns of emergency responders;
  • permitting and inspection;
  • training and education; and
  • aftermarket vehicles and components.

A review and synthesis of all the information considered throughout the Summit, including consideration of the critical elements of the six aforementioned key areas, results in the identification of the following three action plan considerations:

1) Vehicle Charging Infrastructure;
2) Battery Hazards Identification and Protection; and
3) Training for Emergency Responders and Enforcement Officials.

A significant positive result of this Summit has been the networking component that has established valuable dialogue between important constituent groups on certain critical issues.

This translates to continuing the facilitation of this dialogue on all levels as an important action item resulting from the Summit. Further to this point of maintaining on-going constructive dialogue, planning should be considered immediately for a similar follow-up Summit in the near future, such as next year.