In the first quarter of 2022, battery-electric vehicle sales in the U.S. ramped up sharply, accounting for 4.6% of the new light-vehicle registrations as compared to just 2.6% for full year 2021 and 1.5% for full year 2020, according to a new report from CCC Intelligent Solutions.
As more fleets begin to adopt electric vehicles (EVs), safety concerns and repair costs after a collision are two key issues fleet operators will want to consider. The CCC report touches on both topics.
Specific design differences between EVs and traditional vehicles can have an impact on safety. For starters, the torque and acceleration of EV’s is different than for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. One of the key features of the new Ford 150 Lightning, for example, is the ability for the truck from standing stop to reach 60 mph in 4 seconds.
From a fleet operator’s perspective, speedy acceleration is not necessarily a good thing. However, from a safety standpoint, the good news is that EVs often decelerate quickly, too. In fact, EVs often decelerate at distances in line with — or better than — similarly sized gas vehicles, notes the report.
Regenerative braking systems aid in shorter stopping distance, which is a significant safety benefit. Typically, EVs are equipped with regenerative braking where the electric motors slow the machine while generating power, and with most using a skateboard battery design, have lower centers of gravit, and spread braking power more evenly among the four wheels.
The weight of an EV can also have an impact on safety — positively and negatively. Many EV models weigh substantially more than their ICE comparable models. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the added weight in EV and hybrid vehicles means occupants are less likely to be injured in a crash than people in otherwise similar gas-powered vehicles.
However, that extra weight can be bad news for motorists who get hit by electric vehicles, as the added impact force gets transferred to the other, lighter vehicle. Moreover, one study concerning pedestrians found that injuries increased with the weight of the vehicle in the collision.
Advanced technology can offer safety benefits as well. The CCC report notes that numerous EV manufacturers have already met the voluntary commitment to equip their vehicles minimally with front automatic emergency braking. In addition, many EVs are equipped not only with a variety of driver assistance features, but also with connectivity and telematics features.
As it concerns repairs, the report indicates that the average total cost of repairs for EVs is higher than non-EVs, or even luxury non-EVs.
CCC completed analysis of two subsets of vehicles, comparing vehicle repair metrics like cost, OEM part utilization, repair versus replace, repair cycle time, and repairer productivity. The first subset of vehicles were small non-luxury models where the same model was available as an EV or ICE, or where an ICE vehicle with a similar body style was available for comparison to a model produced only as EV. The second subset of vehicles did the same for mid-size luxury SUVs.
Claim data compared was for collision losses for driveable vehicles with a front impact and vehicle ages current to three years of age.
The findings showed that EVs had a higher average repair cost. This was likely due to higher OE parts utilization and more repairs requiring operations like scan and calibration. Moreover, repair times were longer for EVs than for ICE models. Finally, EV repairs had a higher percentage returned to the shop for additional work after the customer picked up the vehicle.