EV weight could cause ‘catastrophic’ damage and ‘result in parking lot collapse’
Multi-storey and underground car parks could collapse under the weight of electric vehicles, engineers warn.
Electric cars, which weigh about twice as much as standard models, could cause “catastrophic” damage, according to the British Parking Association (BPA), which is urging local authorities to conduct urgent structural surveys.
Most of the country’s 6,000 multi-storey and underground facilities were built to specifications based on the weight of popular 1976 cars, including the Mk 3 Ford Cortina.
But the electric cars currently on the UK market are much bulkier. For example, the best-selling Tesla Model 3 weighs 2.2 tons when fully loaded, making it more than 50 percent heavier than a 1.4-ton Cortina.
In the picture: parking lot (photo). Multi-storey and underground car parks could collapse under the weight of electric vehicles, engineers warn
Civil Engineer Chris Whapples, a member of the BPA, which represents car park owners, said: “If a vehicle is heavier than originally designed for the car park, the impact could be catastrophic. We haven’t had an incident yet, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time.
“We recommended carrying out a loading check on all older parking lots. And the industry is reacting.”
EVs are heavier primarily due to the batteries used to power them and the reinforced frame and suspension required to house them.
“All the internal components make these batteries very, very heavy,” Mr Whapples said. “Today, the battery forms the underbody of most electric vehicles. It extends over practically the entire footprint of the vehicle, from axle to axle.”
Electric cars have grown in popularity in recent years. There are an estimated 620,000 and 440,000 plug-in hybrids on the road in the UK today, using both petrol and electric.
Every tenth new car sold in 2021 was electric, and another seven percent were hybrids.
Sales are expected to surpass diesels by the end of this year, a surge fueled by environmental concerns but also by rising diesel costs, Congestion Charges and London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Most of the country’s 6,000 multi-story and underground facilities were built to guidelines based on the weight of popular 1976 cars
However, Mr Whapples said the mounting risks to infrastructure such as car parks and bridges were not recognised.
“When you start seeing the weights of the vehicles coming out of the factories, you start to wonder if the existing standards are adequate,” he added.
The Institut für Bautechnik will update its planning recommendations for multi-storey and underground car parks in January and will recommend larger parking spaces and a higher load capacity.
However, this only affects new build – and strengthening existing car parks could prove prohibitive.
Meanwhile, Mr Whapples suggests some car parks may restrict vehicle entry due to their weight.
Britain’s heaviest electric car weighs FOUR TONNES
A report earlier in the year pointed to the increasing weight of larger electric SUV models and warned that adding more volume could mean owners could potentially break their driver’s license rules.
It comes as the hulking Hummer Electric is now being sold to customers through a UK dealer who imports it from the US at a price of £320,000 each.
This behemoth of a pick-up truck weighs a whopping 4,103 kg. To put it in perspective, that’s almost two Range Rovers
The vehicle tips the scales at a whopping 4,103 kg.
To put that in perspective, that’s almost three Ford Cortinas.
In fact, its battery pack alone weighs 1,326 kg, which is heavier than a Ford Fiesta currently sold in showrooms.
Its sheer weight will pose a legal issue for any driver under the age of 42 who buys one, as they will have to pass an additional test to legally get behind the wheel.
Because a normal driving license is simply not suitable for a vehicle of this tonnage.
For those who passed their test after January 1997 and hold a traditional ‘category B’ car license the maximum legal mass (MAM) of a vehicle is 3.5 tonnes – read more about MAM here.
Anything above that weight – like the 4.1 tonne Hummer EV – means a traditional license becomes invalid and a category C1 truck license is the legal requirement.
This can only be achieved by passing a separate driving test to prove the ability to drive a vehicle up to 7.5 tons.
It will not be a problem for older motorists who passed their test before January 1997; They automatically have rights – known as ‘grandfather rights’ – to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes, having been granted C1 rating if passed.
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