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EV Batteries: A Heavy Topic

Electric vehicles (EVs) are beginning to make a dent in the new-vehicle marketplace, having reached nearly 6% of purchases in 2022 (a 65% increase over 2021). The current administration has set a goal of 50% by 2030 in order to aid the environment. (But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Read about the environmental impact of lithium mining to supply the batteries.)

But one major, often overlooked EV issue concerns the weight of EV batteries. Depending on the type of vehicle, the disparity in weight between an EV and a gas-powered vehicle of similar size can range from hundreds of pounds to several thousand.  Safety-wise, this is good news for the occupants of the heavier EV.  Not so much for the occupants of the lighter vehicle, who are subject to higher forces in a crash. According to a 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a 47% greater chance of a fatality for the lighter-weight vehicle occupants when struck by a vehicle that outweighs theirs by 1,000 pounds or more.

The demand for 400 miles per charge currently necessitates larger EV batteries. EV engines are also extremely powerful. Despite the added weight, many EVs can surge from 0–60 in less than 5 seconds and have 100% of their torque available immediately, unlike conventional gas-powered vehicles. Not every driver properly manages that. Extra weight also means longer stopping distances, and it’s not clear that all EVs have the braking capabilities to handle their additional mass — making things dicey for pedestrians and bicyclists, too.

The bad news is that much of the sourcing of Lithium is from other nations, some who are not so friendly to the US lately.  And also, the pollution the Lithium mines cause in those nations.

But nothing is perfect in this world.