Are electric trucks too heavy to crash test?


Electric trucks were designed to haul … heavy batteries.

Full-size models need large packs to give them enough driving range, but they pack on the pounds.

The 200 kilowatt-hour battery in the GMC Hummer EVfor example, weighs nearly 3,000 pounds, pushing the truck’s total weight to more than 9,000 pounds.

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

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The GMC Hummer EV weighs more than 9,000 pounds.

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

The currently available version of the Hummer EV weighs so much that it’s classified the same as GM’s heavy-duty truck models and doesn’t need to get a crash-test rating, but there are slightly lighter trucks that do. The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) limit for a light-duty truck is 8,500 pounds, and that’s the combined weight of the vehicle and how much 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 in at 6103 pounds, but the Rivian R1T electric midsize pickup that it recently acquired for evaluation weighs a little more than 7,000 pounds and sits right at that GVWR limit.

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

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

Before it tested the modern machine, the IIHS wanted to make sure equipment could accelerate vehicles like it up to speed properly, so it filled up a couple of old trucks with steel plates and concrete blocks to get them up to around 9,500 pounds.

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The vehicles that get slammed into barriers aren’t moving under their own power but are towed by a pulley system attached through a track in the floor that needs to reach 40 mph for the frontal impact test.

The testing equipment was able to work properly with the extra weight.

The testing equipment was able to work properly with the extra weight.
(IIHS)

One of the test trucks was a two-decade-old Ford F-150 with a bed full of ballast. The truck wasn’t being tested for its own crash performance with the load, just acting as a conveyance for the weight. As it turns out, the frontal structure visibly held up surprisingly well, but the load went straight into the cabin.

The F-150 reached the required speed before impact.

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

More important, the machine functioned properly and won’t be needing 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 have its rating posted soon, GM is expected to launch a lighter light-duty Hummer EV model in the near future, and there are numerous large EV trucks and SUVs on the way from other automakers in the coming year.



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