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  • Press Release

UL to release requirements for electric vehicle batteries

September 17, 2009

NORTHBROOK, Ill., September 17, 2009 -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a world leader in safety testing and certification, announced today its intent to release a new set of requirements for large batteries in electric vehicles, UL Subject 2580. With interest in electric vehicles on the rise, these new requirements will help mitigate the potential risk of fire and electrical hazards and enhance the overall safety of batteries for electric vehicles.  Before becoming a standard, these requirements will undergo a comprehensive review process by a global Standard Technical Panel (STP).  A STP is a consensus body of individuals representing consumers, government agencies, regulatory authorities, manufacturers and other knowledgeable interested parties that develop and maintain effective product safety standards. 

The use of electric vehicles is expected to increase significantly in coming years, mainly due to the cost of traditional fuels and rising environmental concerns. Billions of dollars are being invested globally to develop and promote this technology, including almost three billion dollars from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. According to the international consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the estimated number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) that will be on the road globally over the next decade range from 1 to 5 million new vehicles per year. Along with this rapid growth comes the potential for fire, electric shock and other safety hazards. 

"There are a number of factors in the industry that will dictate the rate of proliferation of electric vehicles on the market, which include cost, performance, durability and safety requirements for large batteries," said Jeff Smidt, global manager of Underwriters Laboratories Global Energy Business.  "At UL, safety remains our number one concern. With the help of our new and existing safety requirements, we are helping manufacturers get safer vehicles to the market."

While UL Subject 2580 will not be mandated, manufacturers will have the option of certifying to its requirements to help reduce risks. Currently, there is no UL standard for the testing of large batteries like these in electric vehicles.

In addition to developing new standards for large batteries, UL has been conducting tests and certifying to existing standards for numerous hybrid and battery-electric vehicle components. Some of these components include motors, connectors and battery chargers. UL tests these components for overload protection, shock and flammability among other hazards.  Ultimately, UL's requirements for electric vehicle safety help move the industry toward performance and safety standardization.

As an organization focused on public safety, UL has been at the forefront of conducting research and developing standards that contribute to the reduction of dependency on conventional energy sources such as fossil fuels and actively participating in the renewable energy industry including solar, wind and electric vehicles.