Concern over air quality has generated regulatory initiatives to reduce the level of harmful emissions released into the environment. A major source of the problem in large urban centers is gasoline-powered vehicles which discharge hydrocarbon emissions. Efforts to implement the use of non-gasoline vehicles in Southern California has stimulated interest in the development of a new generation of electrically powered vehicles. The electric vehicle, as relating to this article was designed by Universe Engineering under contract for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
A basic GM G-Van, type G-31305 was used as the base vehicle in the current van design. This vehicle was stripped of its internal combustion engine and automatic transmission. The main power unit is an electric motor positioned behind the rear axle. Power is supplied by thirty-six conventional lead acid batteries arranged on a tray, fixed to the chassis in the mid-section of the vehicle. The corresponding risks in a 30 MPh barrier type impact include the battery tray separating from the vehicle and/or excessively high g-loadings transmitted to the vehicle.
The present article discusses the overall structural design, analysis and testing of the Electric G-Van from the point of view of its crashworthiness. Included is a description of both the analytical work and the results of a 30 MPH barrier crash test.