Biden’s EV Push Could Spell Bad News For America’s Worn Out Roadways

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The Biden administration’s electric vehicle (EV) agenda could have significant impacts on America’s transportation infrastructure, according to new research and multiple reports.

The administration wants EVs to comprise 50% of all new car sales by 2030, and federal agencies are spending big and regulating aggressively to reach that goal. EVs may be too heavy for steel safety guardrails on America’s highways to handle, according to new research from the University of Nebraska, and heavier models may also wear out asphalt at a much quicker rate than gas-powered equivalents, according to Forbes.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released a report card taking stock of the country’s infrastructure in March 2021, giving America’s roads a “D” grade.

EVs tend to weigh about 20% to 50% more than gas-powered equivalents, according to the University of Nebraska’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility. In addition to the extra weight, EVs also have a lower center of gravity than internal combustion engine models, which makes them more prone to forcefully breaking through metal guardrails designed to keep cars from falling off the road in the event of an accident. (RELATED: Energy Secretary Pushing Bidenomics, EVs Drives A Model Assembled In Mexico)

“We knew it was going to be an extremely demanding test of the roadside safety system,” Cody Stolle, the assistant director of the University of Nebraska’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, told The Associated Press. “The system was not made to handle vehicles greater than 5,000 pounds.”

The Biden administration signed a global memorandum of understanding at COP27, the 2022 United Nations climate summit, committing to a goal of reaching 100% zero-emissions truck sales by 2040. California, a state that sets stringent auto emissions regulations that many other states have opted to follow, is on its way to banning the sale of new diesel trucks by 2036.

The administration is looking to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to help subnational government bodies acquire electric buses to replace diesel models.

“Decades of research have gone into our highway safety systems, and just as the vehicles of today differ from those from decades past, these safety systems, including guardrails, will continue to evolve and adapt to newer technologies and innovation.  Guardrail design and operation have improved significantly over time, and are expected to continue to improve as the next generations of vehicles and guardrails evolve,” a spokesperson for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a subagency of the Department of Transportation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “FHWA fully supports the type of infrastructure research being conducted by academic institutions such as the University of Nebraska.”

EV weight has also attracted the attention of Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. She aired her concerns in January 2023 that heavier EVs on the road may pose risks for drivers of smaller cars that collide with them in accidents.

The extra weight of EVs, especially electric buses or electric trucks, also poses potential problems for pavement, according to Forbes. Larger vehicles already cause far more damage to pavement than the typical sedan, for example, so the proliferation of battery-powered buses and trucks that can weigh thousands of pounds more than gas-powered equivalents would likely degrade American asphalt more quickly.

For example, the “bus rapid transit lines” featuring electric buses in Indianapolis, Indiana, wore out pavement in less than three years of service, according to the Thoreau Institute. The city then had to repave the affected streets, costing money and causing inconvenience for locals.

The nationwide proliferation of EVs envisioned by the Biden administration could be bad news for America’s roads, which are generally not in excellent condition.

The U.S.’ roadways are “frequently underfunded, and over 40% of the system is now in poor or mediocre condition,” according to ASCE’s 2021 report card.

The White House and the Department of Energy did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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