Safety experts have sounded the alarm that as electric vehicles (EV’s) become more prevalent, so may deadly collisions. When it comes to passenger safety of passengers and drivers in all-electric vehicles as compared to traditional internal combustion cars, size and weight really does matter. With the weight of most electric vehicles far exceeding the weight of internal combustion engine-powered cars according to the experts at the International Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).
Serious injury risk increases as weight differences between EVs and conventional vehicles become greater. As EV technology advances and the driving range of EV’s increases battery size is also increasing. The additional battery weight when added to an already bulkier and heavier vehicle designed to carry that weight changes the physics of any crash.
The GMC all-electric Hummer weighs four-and-a-half tons, with the lithium-ion battery accounting for nearly half of that mass. To understand what that means a comparison is the weight of the battery alone is as much as a Toyota Corolla. With a weight difference that dramatic the risk of serious injury to the occupants dramatically increases.
Raul Arbelaez, vice president of IIHS’ Vehicle Research Center says “It’s simple laws of physics.” “The crash for the other vehicle, when you are heavier, is going to be more severe.” The Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck weighs 2,500 pounds more than the gas-powered base model Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) truck and the Rivian R1T best-selling EV pickup weighs three-and-a-half tons. Additional testing from the IIHS determined that a significant difference in gross vehicle weight has a noticeable and dangerous impact in the event of a crash.
The IIHS staged crashes between a heavier Kia Sorento SUV and a lighter Kia Forte sedan, the simulated injuries sustained by the dummy in the sedan were far greater than those on the SUV’s dummy. Researchers from the National Bureau of Economics’ found a weight difference of 1,000 pounds increases the likelihood of a crash becoming fatal by 47 percent. Though, experts are hopeful that technology advances will include collision avoidance technology. Starting in 2016 several automakers have been adding automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology to help keep pedestrians and the occupants of other vehicles safe. The IIHS estimates that by 2025, AEB technology advancements will prevent 42,000 crashes and 20,000 injuries by 2025.
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