Electric cars cause TWICE the road damage of petrol equivalents: why Britain’s pothole crisis could be exacerbated by the rise of electric cars
- The stress on roads causes more movement of asphalt, leading to small cracks
Electric cars are causing twice as much stress on the roads as petrol equivalents, according to a study, which could increase the number of potholes amid a growing crisis in Britain.
A study led by the University of Leeds found that the average electric car puts 2.24 times more stress on the roads than a comparable petrol car – and 1.95 times more than a diesel. Larger electric vehicles can cause up to 2.32 times more road damage.
The stress on roads causes more asphalt movement, which can lead to small cracks and eventually potholes.
This research, analyzed by The Telegraph, comes as the UK suffers from a pothole crisis, with an estimated £12 billion needed to fill them. Reports say half the number of potholes have been filled compared to a decade ago.
Car weight has become an increasing problem for potholes in recent years as buyers move to larger, heavier petrol and diesel SUVs. The move to even heavier electric cars, especially in SUV style, will put even more stress on the road surface.
The average electric car puts 2.24 times more pressure on roads than a comparable petrol car, according to a study
A pit in Birmingham’s Marget Grove, pictured earlier this year
The research was also published after experts warned that multi-storey car parks are at risk of damage or even collapse due to the weight of electric vehicles.
Since 2019, the number of electric cars on the road has now tripled, with the number rising to 900,000.
The University of Leeds assessed the weight of 15 popular electric cars compared to their petrol equivalents and found that the electric vehicles were on average 312 kg heavier.
This is largely because electric cars have heavy batteries, which can weigh up to 500 kg.
Researchers included smaller models such as the BMW Mini Cooper SE 3-door, Peugeot e208, the Ford Focus Electric and Vauxhall Corsa-e, and larger models, such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron 50 Quattro.
The analysis uses the ‘fourth power formula’ – a method used by highway engineers and researchers to assess damage to road surfaces caused by heavy vehicles. It reportedly means that doubling the weight on a vehicle’s axle can cause 16 times as much damage to a road.
Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, previously told The Telegraph: ‘Unclassified roads would not be designed to accommodate truck axle loads, so heavier EVs exacerbate existing weaknesses and thus accelerate the decline.’
Electric cars, which weigh about twice as much as standard models, can also wreak havoc on parking garages, especially older, unloved structures most at risk of buckling, experts say.
A new guideline is now being developed that recommends higher carrying weights for heavier vehicles.
Chris Whapples, structural engineer and parking consultant, is at the forefront of these new measures that will be published in the coming weeks.
Potholes in the very bumpy road surface of Clumber Street in Newcastle earlier this year
Electric cars would have heavier batteries that could weigh up to 500 kg
The total number of pothole fills reported in this year’s survey has fallen by 16 per cent from 1.7 million over the past two years to 1.4 million in England and Wales
“I don’t want to be too alarming, but there is certainly a chance that some of the early parking garages will collapse in bad shape,” he said. The Telegraph.
“Operators should be aware of the weight of electric vehicles, have their car parks assessed from a strength point of view and decide whether to limit weight.”
Earlier this year, Londonthe Midlands and the North East emerged as the worst regions for road conditions.
A report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance in March found that the cost of clearing the UK’s pothole backlog has risen to £14bn – almost £1.5bn more than last year.