The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jennifer Homendy, expressed concern about the heavier and heavier vehicles that are driving on American roads, including electric cars.

In a keynote speech to the Transportation Research Board (TSB) annual meeting in Washington, Homendy said that she’s concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles, including electric vehicles.

She put into perspective the difference in mass between a big electric SUV like the GMC Hummer EV and a smaller and cheaper internal combustion-engined Honda Civic.

“A GMC Hummer EV weighs over 9,000 pounds, up from about 6,000 pounds. Its gross vehicle weight rating is a staggering 10,550 pounds. The battery pack alone weighs over 2,900 pounds — about the weight of a Honda Civic. The Ford F-150 Lightning is between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds heavier than the non-electric version. The Mustang Mach-E, Volvo XC40 EV, and RAV4 EV are all roughly 33% heavier. That has a significant impact on safety for all road users,” said the head of the NTSB during her speech.

The board has no authority to make regulations regarding traffic safety – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSHA) has this power for vehicles – but it investigates transportation crashes. In this context, the chief of the NTSB said that she’s inspired by the Administration’s commitment to phasing out carbon emissions, but that “we have to be careful that we aren’t also creating unintended consequences: more death on our roads.” She didn’t offer a clear solution for this potential problem, however.

With the technologies available today, an electric car’s driving range is directly impacted by its battery size - the larger and heavier the battery, the longer the range. There are, however, several companies that are working to bring solid-state batteries to market, which have the potential to offer the same range as conventional lithium-ion cells but at half the mass.

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