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IIHS Reminds Us How Crucial It Is That BEVs Lose Weight for Health … – autoevolution

Mar 21st, 2023

Raul Arbelaez oversees vehicle crashworthiness evaluations as the IIHS vice president at the Vehicle Research Center. He and his team have carried out 55 crash tests with EVs, and he confessed his major concern involved fire episodes. They never happened in IIHSs trials, but Arbelaezs attention focused on how heavy these vehicles were.

Being heavier makes EVs safer for their occupants, but more dangerous to those in lighter vehicles and just passing by, such as bikers and pedestrians. The frontal crash tests performed by IIHS against a fixed barrier represent how the car would behave if the collision happened with another one of the same weight. If the wreck involved a lighter car, the vehicle with a higher mass would push the other one backward. That means the people in the more lightweight vehicle will be subject to higher forces.

Photo: GMC

If that does not impress you, think about a GMC Hummer EV and an ICE truck of the same size (216.8 inches, or 5.51 meters). The closest one I found was the Jeep Gladiator (218 in, or 5.54 m). The Wrangler pickup truck has a curb weight of 4,650 lb (2,109 kg), or almost halfway to where the Hummer E tips the scale: 9,063 lb (4,103 kg). The GMCs battery pack (2,923 lb, or 1,326 kg) represents 62.8% of the Gladiators mass. If a Hummer EV crashed against the Jeep pickup truck, things could turn really bad for anyone inside the Gladiator.

Photo: GMC

Tesla seems to be going in the opposite direction with the Cybertruck. The company has repeatedly said that its electric pickup truck will use the same steel that the Starship adopts. That would make the exoskeleton bulletproof, which is a pretty serious allegation in many aspects. However, let me stick to the one that matters here: steel that resists shots may not absorb energy the same way a more flexible material would. In fact, it may transfer all the forces produced in an impact to the other vehicles involved and all occupants, with deadly consequences.

Photo: Chile AI100

His second request is to have smaller battery packs, something that would help reduce weight. The penalty will be shorter ranges, something most people are not willing to accept. In fact, the longer the range an EV offers, the more appeal it has with customers. As much as EV advocates think it is ok to wait 20 minutes or more for a fast charge, people just want to have a similar experience to that of filling a fuel tank, which generally demands less than five minutes.

Arbelaez hopes that battery technology evolves to the point that we can have longer ranges in smaller battery packs. Thats what lithium metal companies and solid-state battery startups keep promising for 2025 or even 2024, which is not that far. While that does not happen, it would be wise to listen to the man and consider that heavy vehicles that can accelerate as fast as EVs deserve to be developed in ways that protect people inside them or from them.

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IIHS Reminds Us How Crucial It Is That BEVs Lose Weight for Health ... - autoevolution

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