In a surprising revelation, recent data indicates that electric vehicles, particularly Tesla models, are more prone to accidents compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts. Here’s the full story.

Replacing EVs With Gasoline Vehicles

Hertz, a major car rental company, made headlines by announcing the sale of 20,000 electric cars from its fleet, replacing them with gasoline vehicles. One reason cited for this shift was an alarming frequency of accidents involving electric cars.

Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr pointed out that the repair costs for electric vehicles are notably higher than their gasoline counterparts, contributing to the decision to reduce their electric fleet.

These concerns are not isolated to Hertz, as insurance data analyzed by researchers at LexisNexis Risk Solutions revealed a broader trend.

The Research

When individuals transition from driving gasoline-powered cars to electric cars, the likelihood of accidents increases. While a slight increase in accidents is noted when switching to gas-powered vehicles, the spike is more pronounced with EVs. The frequency of insurance claims rises by approximately 14.3%, accompanied by a 14.5% increase in the severity of claims.

The data further suggested that the first year after acquiring a new electric vehicle saw the highest increase in incidents, gradually tapering off as drivers became accustomed to the new technology.

Majority Are Teslas

This pattern is not observed when transitioning between gasoline-powered vehicles. It is crucial to note that “electric vehicles” predominantly refers to Teslas, which make up a significant portion of both Hertz’s EV fleet and privately owned electric vehicles in the United States.

While some may attribute the higher accident rates to Tesla vehicles specifically, similar trends were observed in China, where a variety of electric vehicles, not limited to Teslas, are prevalent. LexisNexis researchers examined insurance claims for new electric vehicles replacing gas vehicles in households, attempting to account for variables such as driver age, household income, and insurance levels.

The Reasons Behind the Accidents

The study found that crashes are more frequent in households with both gas and electric models, suggesting that regularly switching between the two worsens the issues. The fact that crash frequency decreases over time implies that unfamiliarity with electric vehicles may be a significant factor, according to Xiaohui Lu, head of EV research at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

Contrary to these findings, the Highway Loss Data Institute, an organization funded by the insurance industry, has not reported higher crash rates for Tesla vehicles or electric vehicles more broadly based on overall insurance claims. However, Teslas are associated with higher claim costs, according to HLDI.

Several factors may contribute to the higher accident rates associated with electric vehicles. One notable difference is the speed at which these vehicles can accelerate.

Powerful Electric Motors

Teslas, in particular, are known for their powerful electric motors, allowing for rapid acceleration. The lack of traditional engine sounds associated with acceleration and high speeds might contribute to drivers being less aware of their speed.

EVs are also heavier than gas-powered vehicles due to their large battery packs, resulting in more significant damage in accidents and higher insurance claims. The quick response of electric motors and the absence of a traditional engine revving up before moving can catch drivers off guard, especially in low-speed environments like parking garages.

One-Pedal Driving

Additionally, EVs often feature “one-pedal driving,” a system that slows the vehicle rapidly when the driver lifts off the accelerator pedal. While this can enhance energy efficiency, it may lead to confusion in emergency situations where a sudden application of the brake pedal is required.

What do you think? How can drivers, manufacturers, and regulatory bodies address the specific challenges associated with driving EVs to increase safety and reduce the frequency of accidents during the transition to EV adoption?