Road Weight Restrictions Pose Issues for EV Rollout

As the United States pushes for a faster conversion to EVs, road weight restrictions pose an unexpected barrier. 

In the fight against climate change, the United States has placed a hefty bet on converting the nation’s cars from gas to electric. As previously covered on Conduit Street, one of the main barriers to this conversion is infrastructure – specifically road weight limits. Electric vehicles (EVs) can weigh one or more tons heavier than their internal combustion engine counterparts, creating several significant safety concerns. Leaders in both the public and private sectors are currently working on solutions to help continue the EV transition while also not sacrificing the health and safety of the public.

road with yellow lineRoad Composition 

It is almost certain that the roads of the future will need to be composed of new materials. Asphalt has been proven to be ill-suited for a world full of EVs. The additional degrades surfaces faster, leading to additional pothole formation and other concerns. Some experts believe that future roads will need to be constructed of concrete, which is more durable and requires less maintenance compared to asphalt. Cost-wise, concrete is roughly 50% or more expensive than asphalt, but it requires much less maintenance and has a longer life. Regardless of what materials are currently available or what may be developed in the future, it is clear that what we construct our roads of will need to change soon as EVs take up a great share of vehicles on the road.

Weight Limits in Transport

In addition to the general weight concerns of EVs, there are also challenges around transporting these vehicles from factories or ports to dealers and consumers. Currently, most new vehicles are stacked and transported on large trucks that themselves weigh a significant amount. Federal law restricts trucks from exceeding 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, which includes the weight of the truck and trailer. These weight restrictions have created supply chain constraints, making it difficult to more large volumes of vehicles across the country. EV producers have been pushing Congress for increased weight limits, but haulers and other advocates have voiced significant safety concerns. Heavier vehicles take longer to stop and can more easily tip over, meaning an increased likelihood of accidents. California has allowed for increased weigh limits on trucks moving in and out of ports, and both the state and federal government are exploring higher limits as a rule going forward.

Read the full story from Reuters.

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