Over the summer (and to much media fanfare), Elon Musk’s Tesla rolled out its Model 3 vehicle. More recently, Tesla rolled out a semi-truck design that stunned the automotive world. Many car-watchers believe the moment was profound. The Golden Age of Electric Vehicles may be upon us, but as any new age dawns, we need to be mindful of any new hazards that may exist.
Perhaps we’re witnessing a true automotive industry paradigm shift—a tipping point on the way for the dominance of electric vehicles. The first Model 3 batch came off the assembly line in late July, and more than 500,000 customers already have placed deposits for a vehicle. At $35,000 per unit, Elon Musk called the Model 3 the best car for its price point, either electric or gasoline.
This step toward a mass market seems beneficial for the environment and our future.
Electric cars promise to have distinct advantages–but do they also pose hidden dangers?
What are the risks futurists are ignoring?
First: Recapping the Benefits of Electric
- Increased energy security. In 2015, the US imported nearly a quarter of the fuel it consumed. Three quarters of all U.S. petroleum consumption is related to transportation. As a nation, we’re vulnerable to supply spikes and disruptions, as much of the world’s oil comes from volatile political areas. Using electric- and hybrid-model cars can help reduce the spikes in oil prices and make the United States less dependent on foreign oil.
- More energy efficiency. Electric vehicles often achieve better fuel economy and create lower fuel costs than those operating on conventional fuel. As an example, the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid advertises an average fuel economy for highway and city of 48 miles per gallon. Light-duty total electric cars can achieve fuel economy that exceeds 100 miles per gallon.
- Better emissions. Both electric and hybrid vehicles have significantly cleaner emissions compared to their conventional counterparts. Electric vehicles create zero tailpipe emissions, and hybrids produce no emissions if they’re in electric mode.
- More battery power. Electric vehicles and hybrid models feature advanced batteries that can last up to eight years or 100,000 miles. In moderate climates, some experts believe these batteries could last 12 to 15 years. Though these batteries can be expensive, prices are expected to decline as these cars become more common and production volume increases.
Possible Dangers Posed by Electric Vehicles
Despite the benefits of better security, longer lasting vehicles, and improved fuel economy, electric vehicles are not without their disadvantages:
- Possible dangers for first responders. A report by the Society of Automotive Engineers details that first responders reporting to the scene of a serious accident involving an electric vehicle are vulnerable to electric shock. This risk also applies to tow truck drivers who are unfamiliar with the high-voltage areas of electric vehicles.
- A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that drivers of electric cars may be more vulnerable to electrocution, vehicle fire, explosion, or exposure to leakage of caustic battery chemicals from vehicle ports. Electric vehicles use DC (direct current) technology, and a shock could prove fatal even in small doses.
- Electric vehicles, on average, are approximately 10% heavier than a standard fuel vehicle due to their onboard rechargeable electric storage systems. This added weight could serve as a safety disadvantage in crashes involving other vehicles.
- Car charging ports also pose some risk of electrocution. A random check from the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission found that many of the charging ports across the country lack operational grounders.
Electric vehicles are projected to be a boon to the American economy and the environment. These vehicles carry a lot of distinct advantages, making the idea of a mass market share appealing.
As we’ve outlined, they’re not without their dangers. The government must work to standardize safety features and tackle these problems head-on if we’re to enjoy safer roads. Electric cars stand to benefit from rigorous safety testing and standardization.
Electrocution and other hazards exist with the newer vehicles, the frontier is constantly changing. There are many advantages to owning these electric vehicles, however, be careful of the disadvantages as well.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any negative experiences with electric vehicles. We here at Smiley Law Firm want to create a forum where the public can learn from experiences of others.