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Electric vehicle battery safety becomes a priority for US regulators

NHTSA's new Battery Safety Initiative will push the industry for safer batteries and fewer incidents related to the energy storage devices.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
NHTSA's stepping in.

Electric vehicles are just as safe, if not safer, than a standard car with an internal-combustion engine. The trouble comes when batteries ignite and a fire ensues, as we've seen in numerous incidents over the past few years. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doubling down with its new Battery Safety Initiative.

The government agency said Saturday it will bolster its efforts to collect data, investigate incidents and remain a prominent voice when it comes to global technical regulations for battery safety. It will research areas such as battery diagnostics, management systems and even cybersecurity to ensure future cars with batteries onboard to power the entire vehicle are as safe as can be. NHTSA also plans to take a closer look at fast-charging solutions and how companies test their development. Wireless car charging is also on the agency's radar.

The initiative comes at a time when interest in EVs is starting to pick up in the US. All signs point to greater EV adoption in the years to come, too, especially as more automakers begin rolling out expanded portfolios of electric cars. The problem with battery safety isn't subject to a single automaker. Recalls from General Motors and Hyundai occurred in the past year, and investigators looked into Tesla more than once for its own battery safety issues, related to fires.

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