Electric vehicles (EVs) have made huge progress in terms of reliability and usability since the first mass-produced EV was released in 1996 as the GM EV1. The value proposition for electrics continues to attract the masses as EVs have gone from being seen as a compromise to becoming a sought-after luxury item. Electrics are now considered some of the safest vehicles on the road; this article will explore what makes EVs so safe and some inherent characteristics that make them unsafe.
What Makes EVs Safe
One of the primary reasons EVs have earned their high safety ratings is their design. The Tesla Model S, for example, broke the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s testing equipment for frontal crashes back in 2013. Tesla and other EV engineers can take advantage of areas that traditionally must accommodate internal combustion engine components. Since the chassis does not have to compromise for an engine, crumple zones can be maximized to reduce the force of front-end collisions.
Low Center of Gravity
Electric vehicles also benefit from a safety advantage in rollover accidents. Battery packs have an average weight of 1,000 pounds and are positioned very low on the chassis, thus lowering the vehicle’s centre of gravity. This characteristic makes EVs far less prone to rollover accidents compared to traditional ICE vehicles.
Advanced Standard Safety Features
Another factor that contributes to EVs’ safety-oriented reputation is their advanced safety technology features. Many EVs offer safety features such as automated emergency braking, lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring. These systems work to prevent driver error by intervening steering and braking inputs to reduce the chances of a collision. Many of these come as an option on traditional vehicles, but most electrics come standard with advanced safety tech.
For example, the Chevy Bolt is the cheapest EV on the market for 2023 and comes standard with:
- Forward collision warning
- Forward automatic emergency braking
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Pedestrian detection
Inherent Risks of EVs
While EVs offer many safety advantages over gas-powered cars, there are inherent characteristics that pose a unique risk to drivers. One of the biggest risks is the weight of the vehicle. Current EVs typically weigh hundreds, if not, thousands of pounds heavier than their ICE counterparts. Most drivers aren’t used to driving vehicles this heavy which can make them more challenging to manoeuvre especially in emergency situations. This added weight poses a risk to other vehicles and users of the roadway in the event of an accident. The increase in vehicle mass multiplies the forces in an accident potentially turning a minor collision into a major collision.
EVs are also known for their high-performance capabilities. Electric motors operate fundamentally differently than ICE vehicles by offering instant torque and power delivery. The newest Hummer EV, for example, comes standard with 1,000 horsepower and 1,200 pound-feet of torque. Coupled with the fact that this car weighs in at over 9,000 pounds, this vehicle would be a lot for any driver to handle. Inexperienced drivers may be at more risk for car accidents if they’re not prepared to handle the power of the vehicle according to the car accident lawyers at Roberts & Spiegel.
Worth the Tradeoff?
While these inherent characteristics pose a risk to drivers, EVs are still considered some of the safest vehicles on the road. The several safety benefits offered by electrics are hard to ignore, even in the face of their tradeoffs. By understanding the risks and taking the necessary steps to minimize them, the widespread adoption of EVs can make the roads safer for everyone.