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Electric vehicles are complicating car safety testing

09 October 2021, Brandenburg, Grünheide: A Tesla Model Y side-impact test car is seen at a production hall of the Tesla Gigafactory during the open day. The first vehicles are due to roll off the production line in Grünheide, east of Berlin, from the end of 2021. The US company plans to build around 500,000 Model Ys here every year. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images) picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Electric vehicles are complicating car safety testing

Heather Hamilton

December 31, 03:00 AM December 31, 03:00 AM

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Electric vehicles are complicating car safety testing due to their heavier weight.

Vice President Raul Arbelaez of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center said that electric vehicles’ batteries are “pushing vehicle mass higher.”

With the increased weight of electric vehicles, IIHS engineers need to ensure crash machines can handle getting heavier cars up to 40 mph in 600 feet before they hit the crash test barriers.

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To date, the heaviest vehicle tested is the 2019 Audi e-tron, which weighs under 6,000 pounds. However, Arbelaez said that the weights of “some of these electric vehicles that have been advertised as coming in the next few years” will be much higher, with “one as high as 9,500 pounds.”

General Motors has said the 2022 GMC Hummer electric truck tips scales at 9,046 pounds. Its battery alone is said to weigh nearly 3,000 pounds.

Arbelaez said engineers have successfully loaded “old junkers” with heavy steel and concrete, seeing that they can match the weight of the heavier electric vehicles.

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However, because the crash tests only consider crashes at 40 mph and estimate the likelihood of injuries for those inside a tested car, it remains unknown how extensive the injuries might be after a car is hit by a heavier electric vehicle.

“The larger vehicles often stay in their lane while sending smaller cars well out of theirs,” Kelley Blue Book stated, acknowledging vehicle safety engineering will soon become “a lot more complicated.”

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