More than half of UK drivers are concerned about the safety of electric vehicle battery repairs after a crash, according to research by the AA. The motoring organisation’s Accident Assist service said 52 percent of the 13,500 drivers questioned thought the safe repair and any potential replacement of the battery was a worry.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the study revealed that almost two-thirds of respondents were most concerned about the cost of repairs for an electric vehicle. Some 62 percent said they would be most worried about the price of repairing a battery-powered vehicle after it had been in an accident.

Half of drivers (49 percent) said they thought it would be important to have specialist electric vehicle mechanics carrying out repairs to the car, while 45 percent said the availability of parts for their vehicle would be important. Almost a quarter (24 percent) said they would consider the environmental impact of the safe disposal or recycling of the main driving battery as important to them.

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With these findings in mind, the AA says it has revamped its Accident Assist programme to assure electric vehicle drivers that its services will cover the cost of repairs, as well as using accident repair body shops that are approved by the car manufacturers. It’s also promising a lifetime quality guarantee on all repairs.

“As more people buy electric vehicles, they want reassurances that, should the worst happen, the AA is ready to help,” said Tim Rankin, the managing director of AA Accident Assist. “We’re giving power to electric drivers with the very best and independent advice, use of EV manufacturer approved garages and body shops, coupled with fitment of genuine manufacturer parts, therefore giving peace of mind to those involved in a collision.

“We also go further by providing our insurer customers and members who have a not-at-fault claim with an electric hire car whilst theirs is undergoing repair, so they can keep the electric revolution going. Regardless of their insurer, AA Accident Assist is able to help EV drivers at the time of their greatest need.”

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Electric vehicle (EV) battery safety has long been under scrutiny after well-documented accidents in which the lithium-ion batteries used in such vehicles caught fire. However, all electric vehicles sold in the UK are stringently crash-tested, and NextGreenCar content manager Chris Lilly told LV Insurance electric cars are less likely to ignite than conventional petrol- or diesel-powered cars.

“There seems to be sufficient provision from manufacturers for battery safety, and new systems often require greater levels of safety than established technology as people need to be won over to new concepts,” he said. “It's still safer driving a pure electric car than a petrol or diesel one, as batteries are housed in tough casings, whereas a fuel tank is often made of only fairly thin metal or plastic.”

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