June 4th, 2018 by Steve Hanley
Do Electric Cars Get In More Accidents?
Helge Leiro Baastad, CEO of Gjensidige — one of Norway’s largest insurance agencies — tells Bergens Tidende that hybrid and electric cars are involved in more accidents than conventional cars, which in Norway usually means cars with diesel engines. His company has looked at the stats from several thousand accidents that occurred between 2012 and 2017.
“In addition to being involved in 20% more accidents, material damage is 50% higher with electric and hybrid cars,” he says. And why would that be? “These car types are used extensively in close traffic. They drive in and out of collective field and may be more exposed. Our main point is that horsepower takes life. If a family mum or father who has driven a diesel car gets a much stronger hybrid car, then the accident risk is increased significantly.”
He blames Norway’s favorable tax treatment for electric cars for the rise in traffic accidents. “The consequences of today’s tax policy are more accidents on Norwegian roads,” Baastad claims.
Nils Sødal is the acting communications manager for NAF, the Norwegian Automobile Federation. He believes it’s wrong to claim tax policies are increasing the risk of highway accidents. “It’s wrong to categorize one car group like this study has done when electric cars include everything from Nissan LEAFs to Teslas. When you go from a regular diesel car to a Tesla, be aware that it has more power. But they should not be worse to handle than other cars,” says Sødal.
Tom Andre Nilsen, his colleague at NAF, agrees. “Electric cars have electric motors that give you full power from touching the accelerator. It does not build up like in fossil driven cars. It’s easy to get up in speed, the cars are more explosive.” People should be careful when switching from a diesel, whose acceleration is typically measured in furlongs per fortnight, to an electric car, he suggests. “You must get to know the car,” Nilsen says.
Christina Bu, head of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, doubts that electric cars are involved in more accidents that result in personal injuries than other cars. “The vast majority of electric cars in Norway are compact vehicles with moderate engine power. It would be interesting to know how the accidents differ between electric and hybrid cars.”
Model S Most Expensive To Inure
The latest data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the Tesla Model S is the most expensive car to insure in America. Car insurance premiums have risen 33% since 2010, says the IIHS according to a report by USA Today. Many of the cars that are most expensive to insure are large or midsize luxury vehicles like the Tesla Model S. In fact, the Model S tops the list of most expensive cars to insure with the average premium for full coverage being $1,789. The second most expensive car is the Mercedes S Class sedan at $1,541.
The insurance premium list was compiled by 24/7 Wall Street from data provided by IIHS pertaining to 575 vehicles sold in the US during the period 2014 through 2016. The total includes six different types of coverage — collision, property damage, comprehensive, personal injury, medical payment, and bodily injury.
Tesla’s situation is unique. On the one hand, its Autopilot driver assistance technology should lead to fewer accidents with less bodily injury. On the other hand, body damage to Tesla automobiles can be outrageously expensive to repair. The company currently includes insurance coverage as part of its leasing program in some markets. AAA says its studies indicate insurance premiums for Tesla automobiles should be higher than for other cars, while one insurer in the UK is offering Tesla owners a 5% discount.
What lessons should you learn from all this insurance talk? First, electric cars do accelerate faster than cars with internal combustion engines. Electric motors have maximum torque at zero rpm, whereas ICEs need to build revs before they reach their torque peak. For generations, Americans have been obsessed with horsepower, but it is really torque — the force that pushes you back in your seat and puts a huge grin on your face — that they truly love.
Second, insurance rates may vary. It’s best to get a couple of quotes before you bind coverage on your new EV. Third, try not to let all that torque go to your head. No need to embarrass that person in the gasmobile next to you at a traffic light by scooting away into the distance when the light turns green every chance you get. Remember, you are a responsible adult and are expected to act like one — most of the time!
Hat tip to Leif Hansen