The battery weight in Leaf and Volt is good for safety but bad for roads

The battery weight in Leaf and Volt are good for safety but bad for roadsThe battery packs that power electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are extremely heavy. This feature improves the safety rating of the EV’s, but also leads to more road wear. Since road maintenance is financed mainly with fuel taxes on gasoline and diesel, drivers of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt get a free ride. Taxing drivers per mile rather than per gallon would be a fairer way to fund road maintenance.

Road maintenance is currently funded by the Highway Trust Fund, which is financed by federal fuel taxes set at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel in 1993. Since 2008, however, highway spending surpassed the revenues from the trust fund. To make up the shortfall, the Treasury has had to provide $30 billon to the trust fund.

Contributing to the shortfall is that people are driving more fuel-efficient cars. Drivers of electric cars pay nothing for road maintenance (since they don’t use any gasoline or pay gas tax), yet they still contribute to road damage. Although not having to pay for road maintenance may seem like a good incentive to encourage people to buy EV’s, it fails to address the urgent problems of deteriorating roads and bridges across the nation, which impacts all drivers.

One proposal is to tax people based on the miles they drive rather than tax the gas they use. This “pay-to-play” option would be a fairer way to charge drivers for the use of roads. Such a tax should also be tiered to weight, since a heavier vehicle would cause more wear.

But how much road wear, compared to similar sized cars, do EV’s really cause? An indication that driving EV’s would result in more wear is that, according to recent crash testing, the Leaf and Volt rate more safely than other size-comparable cars because they are heavier:

As small cars by length, width, and passenger capacity, the Volt and the Leaf might seem at a glance to be at greater risk in an accident. But there's one key thing that sets them apart from other small cars: their battery packs are extremely heavy. In fact, the Leaf and Volt tip the scales at 3,370 pounds and 3,760 pounds, respectively.

The Leaf or Volt actually weighs more than a SUV like the Jeep Cherokee, which has a curb weight of around 3,360 pounds.

Since the emissions from gasoline-powered cars cause damage to the environment, some sort of fuel tax should be maintained in addition to a per mile tax. If we expect our road system to outlast the combustion engine, however, drivers of electric cars need to start paying for the roads too.


You'd think that this article would actually put up some hard, comparative numbers, a table of car weights, but no, we get only a "vague" more than a Jeep Cherokee. How much does a Nissan Versa weigh, for instance?

Just checked a few sources, seems that the Jeep Cherokee weighs substantially more than a leaf

4001-5000 lbs.

And a Grand Cherokee is much, much heavier, 5,700 lbs. -->

2006 Jeep Wrangler =4,450 lbs


It's also worth noting that Jeep stopped making the Cherokee in 2001 for North America, and 2005 for China. The vehicle sold as the "Cherokee" in Europe is actually the North American Jeep Liberty. Why the author chose a 10-year-old vehicle as a comparison is not clear.

The amount of damage from passenger vehicles to roads is just a rounding error compared to the damage done by Mother Nature (weather) and heavy and medium duty trucks. 

You want EV's to pay for the minimal, tiny amount of actual wear they cause to roads on a per-mile basis?  Fine.  Just as soon as gas cars drivers pay a per-mile charge for ALL the economic damage they cause that gas drivers currently do not pay for on a per mile basis.

1)  A per-mile charge for the economic damage done to our trade deficit by sending our oil dollars outside the US. 

2)  A per-mile charge for all the health problems caused by buring gas.  People literally die every year because we burn gas in our cars.

3)  A per-mile charge for environmental damage, like what was done in the Gulf, and for the portion of the smog we breath that comes from gas cars.

4)  A per-mile charge for the diplomatic and military expenses spent in order to maintain our oil supply lines thorughout the world.

I'm all for both EV drivers and gas car drivers fully paying for their externalities.  Let's do it.

"The Leaf or Volt actually weighs more than a SUV like the Jeep Cherokee, which has a curb weight of around 3,360 pounds."

really? an SUV that is over 10 years old at the newest?

how about a real comparison...

the curb weight of a 2011 dodge challenger is at least 3834lbs.

a mustang is just over 3600lbs.

these cars weights are average, this article is worthless at best.

Road damage increases as the 3rd power of axle loading, so if I in my 600kg/axle light car I do 1 units of damage:

In a much heavier EV with about 800kg/axle I would do about 3.3 units of damage

In a medium sized SUV with about 1000kg/axle I would do 4.6 units of damage

In a large SUV with 1700kg/axle I would do about 23 units of damage.

One semi truck 45kg/axle would do about 435 units of damage.

So I don't really feel bad about wanting an EV.  I'll happily pay for my share once the people in the 5000 lb SUVs pay for theirs....  never mind the truckers.

Talk about someone being out of touch with reality. There are so many points one could make to demonstrate the utter stupidity of this article, and it's so obvious I won't even bother. A few points made above do capture it fairly well.

I think this story was meant to be published on April 1st. It's a pretty weird joke.