EV Weight Becomes a Safety Threat – Report

EV Weight Becomes a Safety Threat - Report

Electric pickups and SUVs — which weigh up to twice as much as their gasoline or diesel equivalents — pose a growing safety threat to other vehicles on the road, a leading US regulator says.

The growing number of electric SUVs and pickup trucks in the US poses an increasing threat to smaller and lighter conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board.

The safety panel is studying the potential impact of heavy electric vehicles on other cars in collisions, as the weight of the largest battery-powered SUVs and pickup trucks in North America exceeds four tons.

“I am concerned about the increased risk of serious injury and death to all road users from heavier … weights and increasing size, power and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles,” NTSB chief Jennifer Homendy told Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC.

“Safety, especially when it comes to new traffic regulations and new technologies, must not be neglected.”

In December 2022, the Rivian R1T became the first electric pickup truck to receive the highest safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the United States.

But the institute has also reported worrying results from a pickup truck crash test using a replaced Ford F-150 with a ballast of 4,000 kilograms to mimic the forces associated with the new electric pickups, as well as potential difficulties in testing the new electric SUVs and pickups at existing research centers.

In a presentation to the Transport Research Board, Ms. Homendy highlighted the additional weight added to electric vehicles due to their battery packs.

She said the battery-electric Ford F-150 Lightning is 900 to 1,350 kilograms heavier than an equivalent petrol-powered model, while the electric Ford Mustang Mach E and Volvo EX40 are about a third heavier than equivalent non-electric cars.

“This has a significant impact on the safety of all road users,” Ms. Homendy said.

Ms Homendy said she was encouraged by the government’s plans to cut vehicle emissions – President Joe Biden’s current administration has a target of increasing EV sales to 50 per cent by 2030 – but was concerned about the potential impact of the growing sales of electric vehicles.

“We have to be careful that we don’t also create unintended consequences: more deaths on our roads,” she said.

“Safety, especially when it comes to new traffic regulations and new technologies, must not be neglected.”

The safety committee’s findings were endorsed by the Center for Auto Safety, a non-profit consumer group based in Washington DC.

The organization’s chief executive, Michael Brookes, said consumer demand for more range in electric vehicles is leading to larger and heavier batteries.

“These bigger, heavier batteries are going to do more damage,” Brookes said.

“It’s just a matter of mass and speed.”

Paul Gover

Paul Gover has been a motoring journalist for more than 40 years and has worked for newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. A qualified general news journalist and sports reporter, his passion for driving has taken him to Wheels, Motor, Car Australia, Which Car and Auto Action magazines. He is a champion racer as well as a World Car of the Year judge.

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