Ariya - No Easy Emergency Escape?

Faults and Technical chat for the Nissan Ariya
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Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2023 6:39 pm

Post by Envolt »

Someone warned me that the Ariya has laminated glass on all the windows except the small rear window and sunroof.
This would make escaping quite difficult in an emergency which got me investigating, only to discover even more problems.

I checked the car windows and the emergency guide to discover the windows are laminated for extra sound proofing.
Having laminated (plastic film in the middle) windows makes breaking the glass almost impossible unless you have the right tools and a few minutes to spare.
This is very different to normal tempered glass which just fractures with any sharp point or some ceramic touching it and breaks away instantly allowing for a quick escape.
Oh well I am sure they have a emergency mechanical door release like the Telsa - right? Nope, not that I can find. Maybe the boot has emergency exit? Where is it?

Then I got thinking of a few scenarios where this could be an issue.

Situation 1:
Car drives into a river/canal, lake, ocean, floods or any water thats deeper the windows. Although rare, it does happen often enough in the UK.
In this case you have seconds to escape (watched some reputable water escape videos to see that in action) and the myth of holding your breath and waiting for the car to fill up with water to make getting out easier which is not true at all.
Problem is you may loose electrical power and/or airbag deployment when impacting the water almost right away, so its likely you can't even open the window or door as its electronic.
Not a problem, how about the sunroof? Although that is tempered glass there is a blind blocking access - so unless you opened that before you went into the water, its an unlikely exit.
Well the rear boot back window is tempered glass - so lets go! Hang on - did you make sure your boot was empty? And no humans/children on the back seat. Including child car seats or luggage? None of those - if so you are lucky and can probably pull the seats down - be quick. Tick tock!
If not - Make sure you are really skinny and flexible to fit over the back seat and you might need to take headrests off too.
The gap is really tiny (go take a look how small it is) and then break the window with your special tool which really needs to be a glass punch break tool not a sharp point hammer which is a lot more difficult to use in a small space (the rescue people prefer the punch tool by miles).
Now get up to 4 people out within 30 seconds to 2 minutes (average 60 seconds) before the car is properly submerged. Very difficult I would say. Watch some videos to see just how hard it is especially if the water is cold.

Situation 2:
Driving along, maybe at night, hit a rock/pavement under the car or maybe another car and you have a battery fire start from the impact.
If you are in motion then just pull over and get out. Well at least you will be able to hit the breaks with some extra effort and the steering will mostly work.
You may even have pretty flames coming out the vehicle but you will need to exit the vehicle quickly or risk being roasted.
What was a little worrying to see is that the back seat seams to have less fire protection steel plating than the front (see image below).
Now that you are stopped you can quickly open the doors and hop out but you only have seconds if there is one of those rare lithium fires.
What if - the 12v system has failed then you are stuck in the car. Now what?
Firstly the seatbelt tensioner could be holding you in place. Just grab that seatbelt cutter you put in arms reach (not in the cubby where it might not be reachable due to an impact or seatbelt tension)
But now the windows won't wind down and doors are locked. You can't kick the front window out as that is pretty much impossible for any normal human, side windows are laminated and you are pretty much on fire by now.
Once again, rear window exit is the only option, assuming you can get to it and you have that glass break tool on you as explain in situation 1.
It would be bad luck but I still can't believe there isn't a better escape plan for these cars.
25 in 100'000 (1/4000) chance of a electric car battery fire happening (hybrids are 1/28 so don't buy one of those) - so it is very rare. Its not even on my personal worry list but it does happen.

Situation 3:
This actually happened to a Leaf owner. They got into the car inside their home garage and it had 12v electrical failure causing them not to be able to open the doors or windows.
Initially it seems like nothing to worry about but when you discover there is no easy way out then it becomes a problem.
Their panic set in when they realised there was limited air (more like CO2 self poisoning) in the car because it is sealed.
[You have anything from 5 to 16 hours depending on panic state and temperature - much less if multiple people or if its really hot.]
It was unlikely anyone would find them soon and they had no phone on them.
They managed to eventually break a window because it was tempered glass and they had items in the car they could use to do this.
However if you are in your Ariya it would be a lot more difficult to get out due to the laminated glass issue.
Also you would certainly need some tools or ideally a glass punch tool in the car.
Odds of this happening is a bit higher in the Ariya due to known its weird electrical malfunction and 12v issues.

The decision to have laminated glass is not limited to the Ariya at all but the lack manual release is very worrying.

So now I am wondering about other design considerations on the car.

Why is that the UK version has the 12v battery in the boot and not the bonnet like the US cars?
It seems that gaining quick access to disconnect the 12v battery can be important in some situations and useful for first responders.
Its easier to access the bonnet and it has a manual release too.
If there is electrical failure or other serious situation then you can't open the boot.
Also it could be that the boot is full of luggage and the boot floor boards are in place. Now its even harder to access with a locked car even from the inside.

On the positive side, any serious accident with airbag deployment will automatically disconnect the HV system but it still holds the seatbelts in tension.
However if it does not automatically disconnect the HV system - do you know where to pull the plug in an emergency?
Without looking at the manual, try to find it.

Also what is the answer to putting out an electrical car fire, besides calling the fire brigade?
Many people think you can't or that you need a special fire extinguisher. Well there are some but they are massively expensive and small.
The easy answer is a huge amount of water - especially if people are in danger or if the car is setting a house/garage on fire at the same time. Otherwise sit back and watch.
But remember it is prone to re-ignition, so keep that water flowing long after the fire is out or until the fire department is on scene.

Anyone solved the fact the UK cars are missing the emergency charger port disconnection button?
See diagram below and then please see if you car actually has this function.

Please find the lovely first responder and roadside assistance guides for the Ariya attached.





Road side Assistance guide ARIYA_RHD.pdf
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First responder guide ARIYA RHD.pdf
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Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2022 6:08 am

Post by Cosmyc »

I don't see the drama here.
The Ariya as any other Nissan has mechanical door handles that allows opening the doors from inside even when they're locked or without 12V, no need for emergency release like in a Tesla that it needs it. That is except if you're on a region that Nissan allows superlocking in which case if it's enabled by the driver it's a problem, in UK for example can be fitted because is legally permitted, but here in Spain it isn't and the feature is absent, but even then if your Nissan has that feature you can disable it now no problem.
Battery fire, even on an unlikely event that it happens, on the Ariya platform there's an implemented warning system that tells the driver with enough advance to leave the car safely, there's even two variations of this message depending on the urgency.
All RHD Ariya's have the 12V battery on the rear, it isn't a UK thing only, on Japan is like that too.
And disconnecting the HV system manually doesn't necessarily need to disconnect the 12V battery, you can unplug the service plug below rear seats or even easier, open the hood and removing the EV CONT and HV BAT DRIVE RLY1 from the fuse box.
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2023 6:39 pm

Post by Envolt »

So you are saying that you can drive into a lake and just open the doors and get out? No fuss?
You are also saying that when the 12v has failed that the doors also work just fine and the Leaf owners have a different system? The manual also says to make sure the windows and doors are open when disconnecting 12v for no reason as the doors open just fine?
I know about super lock but that’s not what we had been explained in other situations. Super lock is a certain no exit.
This fire warning system that gives you loads of time. Can you give any proof of how well this works?
And just because Japan has a battery in the boot it’s now safe and a good idea?
The manual disconnection is really just for interests sake.
I am not convinced there is nothing to worry about with this car but would feel a lot better if I am wrong.
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2022 6:08 am

Post by Cosmyc »

You can open the door inside a lake as easy or as difficult as a 1st gen Vauxhall Corsa, in the sense that the car itself isn't preventing you in any way from opening the door from inside in a full analog way, other thing is water forces but that's for every car, this is also true for the Leaf.
I haven't seen that phrase in my spanish manual about leaving the doors or windows opened when disconnecting the 12V, in fact I have already opened the doors from inside the Ariya with a 12V battery fully disconnected and all doors previously locked and opens normally, as the EU law mandates.
Can't give proof of how well that system works, it depends on the BMS security and monitoring systems to tell the MCU to display the warning on the driver's dash, the Leaf didn't have this, which indicates clear improvement or at least willing from Nissan of it.
I don't think from a security standpoint that having the 12V battery on the boot is a better idea.
I honestly in the whole picture can't see clear signs or proofs that the Ariya has security worries, more the contrary. Nissan is a veteran manufacturer, even used to manufacture cars that will be in natural catastrophes (Japan), we're not talking about Tesla here.
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