Why Electric Vehicles Are Becoming Increasingly More Dangerous

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy recently spoke about the agency's concern that electric vehicles are becoming more dangerous because of how heavy they are, citing that the weight can make crashes more dangerous.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

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Car manufacturers are increasingly ramping up their production of electric vehicles and encouraging drivers to switch from gasoline. But many critics are vocal about the potential downfalls of relying on EVs, including the strain on the power grid. Now, news that electric vehicles may be dangerous is adding fuel to the fire.

Americans love their trucks and SUVs. For years, that has prompted questions and concerns about the size of vehicles on the road. And many people believed that transitioning to EVs would reduce the size of SUVs and trucks on the road. 

However, the exact opposite is happening. Manufacturers are now building electric versions of some of their most popular products. So customers can buy an electric version of their favorite truck or Hummer.

At first glance, that doesn’t sound terrible. What could be the downside of a hybrid or electric Hummer? Theoretically, it would be an improvement over the gas-powered version.

But the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) disagrees. The chair of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy, gave a keynote address on Wednesday, during which she discussed her concerns over the size of EVs. She said, “I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and [the] increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles.”

Homendy is especially concerned about the weight of two consumer favorites – the Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV. Regarding the latter, “Its gross vehicle weight rating is a staggering 10,550 lbs. The battery pack alone weighs over 2,900 lbs—about the weight of a Honda Civic.”

And the Ford F-150 Lightning is not any better. Homendy estimates its weight is nearly 3,000 lbs more than the standard, gas-powered model. This extra weight comes from the batteries required for electric vehicles. 

The troubling news is that it is not just larger vehicles that have this weight problem. Ars Technica looked into the historical weights of multiple manufacturers and models. The weight of vehicles has skyrocketed in recent years, regardless of the model. 

A look at the weight trends for F-150, BMW 3 Series, and Mini Cooper all painted the same picture. Each vehicle’s weight has increased over the years. But they all jumped drastically in their respective electric vehicle versions.

The reason for this lies behind the American consumers’ desire for efficiency. Most manufacturers (rightly) assume drivers want to get at least 300 miles out of their electric vehicles in between charges. And that means larger batteries.

The bad news is that the excess weight is driving up the total curb weight of the vehicles (yes, even the little ones). And that makes them more dangerous on the road. According to Ars Technica, “All else being equal, a heavier vehicle imparts more energy during a crash than a lighter one.”

And while improvements in overall safety features help protect the driver and other occupants, the excess weight poses an increased danger to everyone outside. So, critics are rightly concerned about the electric vehicle trend. However, there appears to be more questions than answers at this point.