Like any conventional car with a combustion engine, electric cars also have to be regularly inspected. Does Dekra, TÜV and Co. currently have special rules for Stromer? And what should vehicle owners expect in the future?
E-car owners must also have their vehicle checked by an expert at a vehicle inspection center three years after it was first registered and every two years from then on. This ensures road safety, environmental compatibility and compliance with the regulations of the respective vehicle. But do the Stromer actually get special treatment?
Well, slightly at best. For the most part, the main inspection (HU) is basically independent of the type of drive - at least so far. Of course, the emissions test (AU) is not required for e-cars and the associated costs for the vehicle owner as well. In terms of financial savings, that's about it. "For an HU on the combustion engine without an AU (e.g. because this is carried out separately by the workshop), the same costs arise as for an HU on the electric vehicle," says the testing company Dekra. The inspection, which costs around 100 to 120 euros for cars weighing up to 3.5 tons, costs a good 40 euros less for electric cars than for vehicles with combustion engines.
Visual inspection of the high-voltage system
When it comes to the essential safety-relevant assemblies - i.e. brakes, steering, light elements, axles, wheels, tires, suspension, frame etc. - there are initially no fundamental differences to combustion engines for the e-car inspection. Nevertheless, according to Dekra, the general inspection for cars with battery-electric drives includes a few special test points. In particular, the focus is on the battery system and the charging connection. The testing organization TÜV Süd also explains that the focus is on those components that a combustion vehicle does not have and mentions high-voltage cables, the battery system and the recuperative braking system as examples. A spokesman for the vehicle monitoring organization KÜS assures: "Everything that could cause a short circuit is viewed critically. That's why even the charging cables are checked for damage."
At the moment, however, the whole thing is limited to a purely superficial visual inspection. The inspectors cannot complain about much more than missing covers, improper fastenings, tricky cable contact points or liquid leaks with possible danger potential. Apart from such defects, the exact condition of the battery system at the HU stand is now hidden.
Industry secret vs. diagnosis
And apparently not without reason: according to the Handelsblatt, the car manufacturers have so far not given the diagnostic programs of the testing organizations comprehensive access to the battery systems.According to Claudius Jehle, managing director of the Dresden software company Volytica Analytics, the concern is that outsiders will gain too much insight into the e-systems. "The car manufacturers are still strongly opposed to granting testing companies and independent third parties a deeper insight into the high-voltage storage devices without barriers," Jehle is quoted as saying by the Handelsblatt. He sees an urgent need for change, since we are talking about "minimum standards in terms of safety". Accordingly, his company has developed automated analysis software that monitors the high-voltage battery in real time. According to Jehle, his company works closely with several auditing companies. According to the Handelsblatt report, the opinion of the motor vehicle inspectors: disclosure of safety-critical information via an electronic interface should be mandatory for car manufacturers.
New test methods? Wait.
So it's quite possible that the badge routine for e-cars will soon include a much deeper look into the battery. A spokesman for Dekra confirmed to auto motor und sport that new test methods are already being developed. As part of this development, Dekra experts contribute their results from internal research projects internationally to the CITA association (International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee). In addition, the testing company in Germany cooperates with Fahrzeug-Systemdaten GmbH (FSD). Incidentally, its managing director Philipp Schuricht also comments in the Handelsblatt article: According to Schuricht, the experts could use the HU adapter to read battery error codes from the car manufacturer's self-diagnosis. However, the test is only as good as the car manufacturer allows. According to the Handelsblatt, all parties involved are already in talks. However, agreement will not be reached before 2023.
Cost factor for customers
What does that ultimately mean for vehicle owners? Not too much at first. "If in the future what we believe to be the expanded testing of safety-relevant aspects of alternative drives (e.g. insulation resistance, battery status check, leak test for hydrogen systems) is included in the HU, this will also have an effect on the costs. However, based on the current state of knowledge, we are not expecting it assume that the costs will then be higher than those of an HU on a combustion vehicle including AU", Dekra clarified at the request of auto motor und sport.
Currently, the HU for electric cars is hardly more complex than the inspection of vehicles with combustion engines. On the contrary: Although there is a superficial visual inspection of the high-voltage components, there is no need for an emissions test and the associated costs. Sooner or later, however, more in-depth inspections are to be expected.But probably only when the manufacturers give in and give the diagnostic software a free path to the electrical systems.