Workshop covers e-mobility safety issues

IEC President stresses importance of safety aspects of e-mobility

By Morand Fachot

ACOS (the Advisory Committee on Safety) organized a workshop on Safety aspects in the area of e-mobility, in Frankfurt, Germany, in February. The aim of the workshop, attended by IEC President Klaus Wucherer, was to cover safety relating to all kinds of EVs (electric vehicles) used to transport people and goods, aspects not necessarily always looked at when dealing with EV issues.

The safety of batteries is important for the overall safety of EVs (array of li-ion cells)

e-mobility and safety

EVs present different issues to those encountered with other motor vehicles. ACOS notes that the system "car" and the systems "electrical products" and "electrical installations", which until now have coexisted and cooperated, are growing together into a new system: "e-mobility".

"EVs use high-voltage electrotechnical systems. Whenever electricity is involved, there is no room for trial and error…because every error is potentially fatal," Wucherer said, adding, "EVs need to be designed, built, operated and repaired safely… from the start."

Dozens of IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Subcommittees) are involved in this quest for safety through the preparation of International Standards for systems and equipment used in and related to road vehicles in general.

"Standards for EVs need to draw on the knowledge of electrotechnical experts, particularly with regard to the safety of humans, animals and the environment," Wucherer reminded participants.

Multiple rules and regulations apply to vehicles

Cars must comply with the UNECE (UN Economic Commission for Europe) rules defined by its World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29).

However, a variety of different sets of rules, regulations and standards exist for electrical equipment from many regions or countries. They include the EU’s Low Voltage Directive or EMC Directive and, in the US, the NEC (National Electric Code). Certain regulations from the UNECE Working Party on Lighting and Light-Signalling (GRE) also apply and these rely to a large extent on IEC International Standards.

The need to ensure that the different requirements result in similar levels of safety everywhere, led the IEC and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) to set up a consistent body of relevant International Standards. To achieve this, both organizations agreed in 2010 to a revised MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on Automotive Electrotechnics between ISO TC 22: Road vehicles, and IEC TCs.

Covering standardization in vehicles

The Safety aspects in the area of e-mobility workshop looked at practical applications of IEC and/or ISO safety standards for:

  • electrical safety aspects inside EVs
  • functional safety in relation to EVs
  • safety aspects related to EVs whether connected or not connected to the grid, including safety-related aspects of DC charging

The IEC provides a number of so-called basic safety and group safety standards which are mandatory for product standardizers within the IEC. These standards, which may deal with aspects of protection against electric shock, insulation coordination or insulation materials, are also applicable to electric vehicles. ACOS coordinates these horizontal safety and group safety standards within IEC.

EVs represent more than mere transport

EVs are about more than transport, "they require a different mind-set compared to ordinary cars. They are not stand-alone products… they are part of a much bigger system", Wucherer stressed. "An increase in electrified transportation will massively impact existing electricity networks. As for the broad roll-out of EVs, it will require significant investment into energy and charging infrastructures", he added.

Charging stations, whether in homes or elsewhere, will be the interface between grid and EVs. The different charging modes require close cooperation between the standardizers responsible for the e-vehicles and those on the grid side, especially with regard to maintaining the consistency and complementarity of safety requirements on both sides. The level of safety protection for EVs users must be comparable to that of users of household equipment or of machine operators.

"Literally dozens of TCs and thousands of engineers work on the global IEC platform on the electric and electronic infrastructure that allows cars to operate as expected and safely.

Many more are adding their expertise to ensure our e-mobility future", Wucherer concluded in his address to participants.

li_ion_cells The safety of batteries is important for the overall safety of EVs (array of li-ion cells)
tech-3_Daimler EV charging_org Charging stations will be the interface between grid and electric vehicles (Photo: Daimler AG)
cooling_towers "An increase in electrified transportation will massively impact existing electricity networks"