Electric vehicle battery weight poses risk for other drivers: Experts

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Electric vehicle battery weight poses risk for other drivers: Experts

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Traffic safety advocates advised that the increased weight of batteries in electric vehicles could be considerably more dangerous to other drivers on the road.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently simulated crash tests to determine how the difference in weight would play out in an automobile crash and found that while EVs fare well, it is often at the expense of lighter, gasoline-powered vehicles.

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An electric battery weighs hundreds to thousands of pounds more than an internal combustion engine, effectively offering better protection to the driver and passengers inside an EV, according to CBS. However, those in a conventional vehicle aren’t so lucky.

“It’s simple laws of physics,” said Raul Arbelaez, vice president of IIHS’s Vehicle Research Center. “The crash for the other vehicle, when you are heavier, is going to be more severe.”

The Audi Q4 e-tron luxury SUV, for example, weighs approximately 5,600 pounds — almost 1,500 pounds heavier than the Audi Q5.

“You take a very large vehicle, say a 10,000-pound vehicle, against that mid-size SUV. You have now converted that from a 40 mph crash for that smaller vehicle all the way to about a 58 mph crash,” Arbelaez explained. “And what crash research tells us is that once you go above, say, the standard 40 mph crash severity, to 55 [mph] and higher, safety for those occupants in those vehicles goes down dramatically. The occupant compartment starts to collapse in ways that we aren’t designing for.”

National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said the wide gap in weight between the two types of vehicles “does present significant challenges for safety,” adding such a difference could hypothetically lead to more deaths caused by car collisions.

“If you think about an impact in a crash with a lighter vehicle with a pedestrian or a cyclist or motorcyclist, it’s going to have a much different outcome than we’ve seen in the past,” she said. “Terribly tragic.”

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Safety concerns about EV use have recently drawn the attention of lawmakers as well.

Last Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote a letter to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler outlining the risks of a rapid transition from gas-powered cars to EVs. His concerns included straining the power grid and wearing down the nation’s transportation infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, due to the hefty weight of EVs, as the Washington Examiner previously reported.

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