The growing number of electric SUVs and pick-ups in the US is creating an increased threat to smaller and lighter conventional petrol or diesel vehicles, according to the National Transportation Safety Board in the US.

The safety board is investigating the potential impact of heavy electric vehicles on other cars in collisions, as the weight of the biggest battery-powered SUVs and pick-ups in North America pushes past four tonnes.

“I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier … weights and increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles,” the head of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy, told the Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC.

“Safety, especially when it comes to new transportation policies and new technologies, cannot be overlooked.”

In December 2022, the Rivian R1T became the first electric pick-up to receive the top safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US.

But the institute has also flagged worrying results from a pick-up crash test using a superseded Ford F-150 ballasted to 4000 kilograms to mimic the forces involved with the new electric pick-ups, as well as potential difficulties in testing the new electric SUVs and pick-ups in existing research centres.

In a presentation to the Transport Research Board, Ms Homendy highlighted the extra weight being added to electric vehicles because of their battery packs.

She said the battery-electric Ford F-150 Lightning is 900-1350 kilograms heavier than an equivalent petrol-powered model, while the electric Ford Mustang Mach E and Volvo EX40 are about one-third heavier than equivalent non-electric cars.

“That has a significant impact on safety for all road users,” Ms Homendy said.

Ms Homendy said she was encouraged by government plans to cut vehicle emissions – the current administration of President Joe Biden has a target of lifting electric vehicle sales to 50 per cent by 2030 – but was worried about the potential impact of growing electric vehicle sales.

“We have to be careful that we aren’t also creating unintended consequences: more death on our roads,” she said.

“Safety, especially when it comes to new transportation policies and new technologies, cannot be overlooked.”

The safety board’s findings have been echoed by the Centre for Auto Safety, a not-for-profit consumer group based in Washington DC.

The organisation’s executive director, Michael Brookes, said the demand by consumers for more range in electric vehicles was leading to bigger and heavier batteries.

“These bigger, heavier batteries are going to cause more damage,” Mr Brookes said.

Extracted in full from: Weight of electric vehicles is becoming a safety threat – report – Drive