AXA Switzerland regrets deploying a Tesla sans battery cells in a crash test to demonstrate EV battery fire risk.
In a statement, the insurance said, “In light of the reactions to the August 25, 2022 crash test, AXA Switzerland wishes to clarify its position… We regret that this year’s crash testing appear to have provided a mistaken impression and produced some uncertainty regarding electromobility.”
AXA Switzerland simulates accidents in a safe setting every year as part of its accident research and prevention activities. 2020 was SUVs, 2021 RVs or camper vans, and 2022 electromobility. The newest event used pyrotechnics to show that EV underbelly damage can cause battery damage and a fire.
“Our goal with this year’s crash tests was to draw attention to insights from our statistics and raise awareness of the risks that can arise with accidents involving battery-powered cars,” explained AXA Switzerland, which noted that the fire being a simulation was communicated transparently during the event.
“We understood after the fact that the test and related communication measures could be deceptive, especially for people who weren’t present during the crash tests and weren’t privy to the related discussion.”
AXA Switzerland says no battery cells were used in the Tesla test car to safeguard spectators during a fire simulation. The controlled burn was meant to show how “tricky” EV fires are.
“The Tesla accident test did not generate the type of undercarriage damage that might trigger a battery fire,” the insurance said. The test didn’t validate the accident hypothesis.
“We should have mentioned this in our post-test press statement and photos. The hypothetical risk test could have been structured differently.
According to AXA Switzerland, EVs don’t catch fire more often than gas-powered cars. While this finding was explicitly acknowledged in August, the company claimed it is now compelled to admit that, without context, the photographic material seems to suggest otherwise.
AXA Switzerland apologized for the confusion. “We’ll re-evaluate the 2022 crash testing, learn their lessons, and use them to improve road safety.”