Could the Rise of Electric SUVs Make America’s Roads Less Safe?

Two distinct automotive trends converge

EV Chassis
A General Motors Hummer EV chassis sits outside of an event where General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced that GM is making a $7 billion investment, the largest in the company's history, in electric vehicle and battery production.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In the last few years, a growing number of automakers have announced ambitious plans when it comes to electric vehicles. The idea of electric SUVs, once unheard of, now seems like an increasingly commonplace occurrence. And when it comes to reducing emissions and consumption of gas, that’s absolutely a good thing.

But a recent article in Bloomberg (via Autoblog) also explores a potential downside to the rise of electric SUVs — namely, that electric vehicles are often heavier than their internal combustion-powered counterparts. And when it comes to accidents, that can make a huge difference.

The article goes on to discuss the Hummer EV, which weighs “roughly the equivalent of two Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks.” Though it also cites research done by Consumer Reports, who found that many automakers are outfitting electric SUVs with more powerful braking systems than their non-electric counterparts.

Still, that’s only one part of the safety equation. Earlier this year, Slate’s Dan Kois wrote a searing indictment of the trend of larger and larger SUVs and trucks. “[T]hose tall grilles create enormous blind spots, ones so big that when you’re behind the wheel you might not be able to see a pedestrian, a whole-ass Corvette, or half a kindergarten class,” Kois wrote.

And that might be the most worrisome thing about all of this — electric trucks and SUVs are certainly better for the environment, but they’re also still massive vehicles, and indicative of a trend of car buyers opting for larger vehicles. Whether powered by electricity, gas or some other type of energy, the safety issues that come up are likely to stick around, even if all new vehicles produced went electric overnight.

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