Are electric trucks too heavy to be crash tested?


Electric trucks were designed to carry… heavy batteries.

Full-size models need big bags to give them enough range, but they add weight.

The 200-kilowatt-hour battery in the GMC Hummer EV, for example, weighs nearly 3,000 pounds, bringing the truck’s total weight to over 9,000 pounds.

This got the folks at the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) wondering, “Are our crash test machines tough enough to handle it?”

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The GMC Hummer EV weighs over 9,000 pounds.
(GMC)

The currently available version of the Hummer EV weighs so much that it is rated the same as GM’s heavy-duty truck models and does not need to obtain a crash test rating, but there are slightly lighter trucks who do. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) limit for a light truck is 8,500 pounds, and that’s the combined weight of the vehicle and what it can carry.

The Rivian R1T has a frame-mounted 135-kilowatt-hour battery.

The Rivian R1T has a frame-mounted 135-kilowatt-hour battery.
(rivian)

The heaviest vehicle the organization has tested to date was an Audi e-tron electric SUV that weighed 6103 pounds, but the Rivian R1T mid-size electric pickup truck it recently acquired for evaluation weighs just over 7. 000 pounds and is right at that GVWR limit.

The IIHS loaded a 10th Generation Ford F-150 with enough ballast to reach 9,500 pounds for the test.

The IIHS loaded a 10th Generation Ford F-150 with enough ballast to reach 9,500 pounds for the test.
(IIHS)

Before testing the modern machine, the IIHS wanted to make sure the equipment could properly accelerate vehicles like this. So he filled a few old trucks with steel plates and concrete blocks to bring them up to around 9,500 pounds.

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Vehicles that are rammed against the barriers do not move under their own power, but are towed by an attached pulley system through a track in the ground that must reach 40 mph for the frontal impact test.

The test equipment was able to function properly with the added weight.

The test equipment was able to function properly with the added weight.
(IIHS)

One of the test trucks was a two-decade-old Ford F-150 with a bed full of ballast. The truck has not been tested for its own crash performance with the load, merely acting as a carrier for the weight. In the end, the frontal structure obviously held up well, but the load went straight into the cabin.

The F-150 reached the required airspeed before impact.

The F-150 reached the required airspeed before impact.
(IIHS)

More importantly, the machine has been running smoothly and will not need any upgrades yet, despite the expected onslaught of heavy vehicles.

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While the Rivian R1T is set to claim the new weight record and its rating will be released soon, GM is expected to launch a lighter Hummer EV model in the near future, and there are many large EV trucks and SUVs on the path of other automakers in the coming year.


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