The auto industry is going green by building electric vehicles, but many fear that the switch to EVs will make roads more dangerous than ever before. Electric trucks are heavy, and they could be more dangerous than traditional trucks.
I recently wrote an article titled “The Electric Truck Problem No One Is Talking About,” with a few important talking points on EVs. It was well-received, but the response I got the most was that the bigger problem is weight, making them rolling killing machines.
A prime example is the new GMC Hummer EV, clocking in at over 9,000 lbs, which is substantially heavier than the 4,900 lbs gas-powered Hummer the company last released in 2010. It’s big, heavy, and, more importantly, extremely fast. It’s potentially a big problem and something Bloomberg touched on earlier this year. So, just how dangerous are electric trucks?
Before we start talking about EVs, I wanted to briefly mention that roads in the U.S. are already unsafe. Pedestrian fatalities and deadly crashes have risen yearly for more than a decade, so this isn’t a new problem.
Furthermore, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently confirmed that in the first half of 2021, pedestrian deaths increased by 17%. That’s over 500 more lives lost compared to 2020 and an absolutely awful statistic.
That’s not from electric vehicles, either. That’s from unsafe drivers in large American trucks and SUVs, and those vehicles just keep getting bigger. Trucks are the best-selling vehicles in the U.S., which isn’t changing anytime soon. They’re also harder to drive, don’t stop as fast as cars, and have big blind spots in front of the overly large hoods.
And unfortunately, they’re all about to be bigger and faster with the rise in electrification. It’s a recipe for disaster.
After some quick research, most of the current EVs available now or coming soon weigh under 5,000 lbs. And while that’s anywhere from 10-30% heavier than gas-powered counterparts, that’s still less than your typical gas-powered F-150 or Chevy Silverado.
I’m talking about the Mustang Mach-E, the Audi e-Tron, or even the new Hyundai IONIQ 5. These electric cars weigh more than a gas version, but the change isn’t a notably dangerous one. That’s because manufacturers have packed them with safe-driving technology, improved braking, collision avoidance, and many stop faster than gas vehicles.
Electric cars aren’t the problem. Fast electric trucks are the problem. For example, the new Ford F-150 Lightning EV is nearly 6,600 lbs, while the average regular F-150 is around 4,700 lbs. See the difference? Ford’s new electric truck is insanely fast while also substantially heavier.
Every car on the market can exceed legal speed limits, but not too many have the quick acceleration of an EV, especially when it’s the size of a truck. These things are fast.
Here’s what some electric vehicles and their gas equivalents weigh:
- Regular Ford F-150 4×4 – 5,000 lbs
- Ford F-150 Lightning (standard range) – 6,171 lbs
- Ford F-150 Lightning (extended range) – 6,590 lbs
- Tesla Model 3 – 3,900 lbs
- Hyundia IONIQ 5 – 4,400 lbs
- Rivian R1T Truck – 6,700 lbs
- Silverado E – unknown (likely over 7,500 lbs)
- GMC Hummer EV – 9,046 lbs
- 2018 F-350 Dually (Diesel) – 8,060 lbs
I threw that last one in the list just for reference. Heavy trucks aren’t anything new, especially when considering some of the old, heavy metal trucks from several decades ago. So while the weight of electric trucks is a concern, maybe the bigger problem is the quest to make them as fast as possible.
Can you imagine a massive F-350 Super Duty XLT Dually going from 0-60 mph in only 3 seconds? That’s how fast the 9,000 lbs GMC Hummer EV accelerates, and it’s terrifying.
From everything we’ve seen so far, electric cars and trucks are pretty safe, as long as you’re the one driving. Every auto manufacturer these days is adding all sorts of cameras, sensors, safe-driving technology, lane assist, collision avoidance, regenerative braking that makes cars slow down faster, and I could go on and on.
EVs have a low center of gravity, all the weight from the battery cells is at the bottom, making them less likely to roll, and they’re heavier than most vehicles on the road. As a result, you’ll be safer in an EV than a traditional small car during an accident.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), electric vehicles are pretty safe and potentially safer than gas vehicles. Plus, a recent study by the NHTSA concluded that the likelihood of passengers being injured in an accident while inside an EV is actually lower than in gasoline vehicles.
It’s easy to see why many people are concerned about large and fast electric trucks. They’re bigger than anything else on the road, heavier, and can accelerate at speeds once reserved for expensive limited-release sports cars.
That said, vehicles have always come in speedy variants, heavy cars are already all over the road today, and there will always be reckless drivers on the streets. The problem, however, is the fact that electric vehicles combine most of those into one vehicle. Just because manufacturers can make a truck do 0-60 in three seconds doesn’t mean they should. Do we really need to go that fast? No, no, we don’t.
This all comes down to humans eventually driving too fast in huge trucks that are about to take over the streets and highways. Several exciting electric trucks are available now or coming soon, including the Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, F-150 Lightning, Silverado EV, RAM 1500 EV, and more.
We’re not sure what the future holds, but this could be a big issue moving forward. Within the next 2-3 years, we’ll likely see thousands, if not millions, of massive 6,500 lbs electric trucks and SUVs on the roads.
How that transitions into traffic accidentals and fatalities is something we’ll have to keep an eye on and consider. That goes for everyone, from consumers and lawmakers, to manufacturers like GM, Tesla, and Ford.