EVs Are Too Heavy for Current Road Weight Limits, Car Haulers Say

Per a standard set in 1975, haulers are restricted to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. The industry wants that upped to 88,000 pounds.

byChris Tsui|
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Getty Images.

The car hauling industry is lobbying various departments of the federal government to increase weight limits on U.S. highways in order to accommodate the transportation of electric vehicles.

According to Reuters, the industry says current weight limits on trucks roaming around U.S. roads are outdated and not equipped for the imminent pivot to battery-heavy EVs. Currently, federal highway safety standards restrict trailers to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. This standard was set back in 1975, back when a Honda Civic weighed 1,570 pounds, or roughly half what one weighs now.

Per EPA figures, the average car or truck on U.S. roads has swollen from 3,200 to 4,200 pounds over the last 40 years. EVs carrying very heavy batteries—the 9,000-pound GMC Hummer EV attributes almost one-third of its weight to just its cells—stand to raise that figure even higher. And while electric cars are a relative minority today, the government aims to have half of all new vehicle sales be of electric vehicles by 2030.

If truck weight limits remain at the current level, transport firms will have no choice but to spread EV deliveries out across more trucks, which they say will lead to delays in orders as well as increased costs. Opposing this movement, however, are safety advocates who say heavier individual trucks on the road are harder to stop, easier to roll, and at higher risk of causing fatalities. The rail industry, meanwhile, is also not a fan for unspecified but arguably obvious reasons.

In terms of specific numbers, the American Trucking Associations has requested a 10% bump in the weight limit up to 88,000 pounds. The extra 8,000 pounds of leeway would let transport trailers carry pretty much the same number of electric cars and trucks as they did in the gas era. For reference, a Tesla Model S weighs approximately 600 pounds more than the dimensionally similar BMW 5 Series, depending on configuration, while Reuters points out that the Ford F-150 Lighting weighs about 1,600 pounds more than the gas truck. The electric Volvo XC40 Recharge, meanwhile, is apparently 1,000 pounds heavier than a gas XC40.

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