Electric cars are sometimes so heavy that they risk crushing smaller cars

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board expressed concern Wednesday about the safety risks posed by heavy electric vehicles when they collide with lighter vehicles.

The official, Jennifer Homendy, raised the issue in a speech in Washington to the Transportation Research Board. He noted, as an example, that an electric GMC Hummer weighs about 9,000 pounds (4,000 kilograms), with a battery pack of 2,900 pounds (1,300 kilograms) — almost the full weight of a typical vehicle. . Honda Civic.

“I am concerned about the increased risk of serious injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and increases in the size, power, and performance of vehicles on the our roads, including electric vehicles,” Homendy said in remarks prepared for the group.

The extra weight that EVs usually carry comes from the size of their batteries. To achieve 300 or more miles (480 or more kilometers) of range per charge from an EV, the batteries must weigh thousands of pounds.

Other battery chemicals being developed have the potential to pack more energy into less mass. But currently, there is a weight mismatch between EVs and smaller internal combustion vehicles. EVs also deliver immediate power to their wheels, making them faster in most cases than most gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs.

Homendy said he was encouraged by the Biden administration’s plans to phase out carbon emissions from vehicles to deal with the climate crisis. But he said he is still concerned about safety risks resulting from the proliferation of EVs on roads and highways.

“We must be careful that we also do not create unintended consequences: More deaths on our roads,” he said. “Safety, especially when it comes to new transport policies and new technologies, cannot be overlooked.”

Homendy noted that Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV pickup is 2,000 to 3,000 pounds (900 to 1,350 kilograms) heavier than the combustion version of the same model. The Mustang Mach E electric SUV and the Volvo The XC40 EV, he said, is almost 33% heavier than their gasoline counterparts.

“This has a significant impact on safety for all road users,” added Homendy.

The NTSB investigates transportation accidents but does not have the authority to make regulations. For vehicles, such authority rests largely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Even outside of EVs, the nation’s roads are full of heavy vehicles, thanks to a decade-long boom in sales of large cars, trucks and SUVs that has led to severe crash mismatches. small vehicles. But electric vehicles are often heavier than the largest trucks and SUVs powered by gasoline or diesel.

Sales of new electric vehicles in the US rose nearly 65% ​​last year to 807,000 – about 5.8% of all new car sales. The Biden administration has set a goal of EVs reaching 50% of new car sales by 2030 and is offering tax credits of up to $7,500 to get there. Consulting firm LMC Automotive makes a more modest prediction: It expects EVs to make up a third of the new vehicle market by 2030.

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