Hyundai Australia is fitting barcodes on the windscreens, front door pillars, and under the bonnet of all its hybrid and electric vehicles so emergency services and rescue crews can find out in a matter of seconds how to disable the battery pack and prevent a potential fire.
The barcodes – the most obvious of which is on the top right corner of the windscreen – are accessed via a QR reader embedded in most smartphones.
Emergency services will immediately be directed to a web page that tells them the make and model of the car, the type of battery pack it has onboard, where it is located, and how to disconnect it.
Last month electric car specialist Tesla faced a lawsuit in the US after an owner died when the vehicle’s battery pack caught fire following a crash. It was alleged the crash would have been otherwise survivable.
Hyundai says its voluntary decision to fit a barcode to relevant vehicles had been planned since before the US Tesla crash came to light and follows a similar move by Hyundai in New Zealand earlier this year.
“The idea to place barcodes on cars was to give emergency services a uniform way to access the very latest information when trying to rescue someone from a Hyundai vehicle after a severe crash," said Scott Nargar, Hyundai Australia’s senior manager for future mobility and government relations.
The barcodes will also give emergency crews the latest data on where to best cut into the vehicle's body if they need to extract occupants. The only downside is that the barcodes lead to a website page for all three types of Hyundai Ioniq. It is up to emergency workers to then determine if the Ioniq they are dealing with is a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a pure electric car.
"They will need to distinguish which model they are dealing with, but the methods to disable these vehicles are very similar," said Mr Nargar. "They can either cut a clearly marked cable under the bonnet or pull a fuse attached to a large, brightly-coloured tag in the boot."
For now, hybrid and electric car rivals such as Toyota and Tesla do not display voluntary labels for emergency services in Australia. Instead, rescue crews must rely on prior training by the car companies or identify the vehicles by 'EV' tags in Victoria and NSW. Other states are due to follow.