David Zipper Profile picture
Jan 13 14 tweets 7 min read
We’re only 13 days into 2023, but this might be the year when we finally realize that oversized, lightning-fast electric SUVs/trucks are a disaster – both for road safety and for the planet.

A 🧵
Enormous EVs pose several serious problems:

- The added weight of their battery makes them deadly in a collision
- Their needlessly fast acceleration puts other road users at risk
- They consume a LOT of scarce battery material and require vast amounts of power to charge
I'd like to think my article last week in @TheAtlantic helped draw attention to the these problems.

But I’m not the first to make these points. @ACEEEdc, @bcshaffer, and @CostaSamaras46 have been raising flags about EV bloat for a while.
During #TRBAM (a huge transportation conference in DC this week) @MichaelReplogle asked a panel of USDOT senior officials about the safety risks of EV SUVs and trucks.

He didn’t get a clear answer, but many in the crowd nodded along w him.
Then on Wednesday, @NTSB’s @JenniferHomendy gave a keynote explicitly calling out the dangers of enormous EVs.

Thousands of transportation professionals heard her speech, and it sparked a flurry of media attention.
A couple of articles this week:

This piece from NPR (btw, if enormous EVs can pulverize lighter cars, imagine what they’ll do to those walking and biking)
This piece in @voxdotcom:

"Due to their batteries, electric vehicles can weigh hundreds of pounds more than their gas-powered counterparts...those extra pounds can create a dangerous situation."
This article by @DavidFerris was especially interesting b/c it shows how uneasy the growing pushback against gigantic SUVs/trucks makes die-hard EV boosters. (cont'd)
This advocate has it backwards.

Consider: The Hummer EV's battery weighs as much as ~3 electric sedan batteries (or ~300 e-bike batteries). And we don't have enough battery material to go around.

Every Hummer EV wastes minerals that could've powered additional EVs.
That point bears repeating. Oversized EVs could make climate change *worse* by consuming so much battery components that could otherwise be used to electrify more efficient vehicles.

Remember: A car isn’t environmentally friendly just b/c it’s electric.

It’s great to see so many people having an aha moment about the problems with EV behemoths.

Next step: Recognizing the destructiveness of gigantic gas-powered trucks and SUVs. They're at least as terrible.
New policies can change consumer behavior.

Two good places to start:
- Implement vehicle taxes/fees that scale based on vehicle weight (DC already does this)
- Revise NCAP (crash test program) to consider danger posed to those OUTSIDE the vehicle
We need new policies that push back against EV bloat.

Two good places to start:
- Implement vehicle taxes/fees that scale based on vehicle weight (DC already did this)
- Revise NCAP (crash test program) to consider risk posed to those OUTSIDE the vehicle
This person (who is ex-GM) is saying what carmakers want you to believe. Don't fall for it.

He ignores the billions of marketing $ carmakers spend *shaping* buyer tastes.

Also: Policies affect tastes. Fees reflecting heavy cars' damage --> Fewer buyers

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More from @DavidZipper

Jan 12
Indianapolis’s new Fatal Crash Review Commission looks beyond police reports, recommending ways that safer street design could prevent a recurrence.

It’s a groundbreaking approach that other US cities should consider.

Me in @CityLab, with 🧵⤵️ bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
In the US, the @NTSB considers aviation, train, & maritime crashes holistically, examining all possible factors.

But unlike places like Finland, the US seldom applies systemic thinking to car crashes. It’s usually “a road user screwed up" - end of story.
Most US traffic crashes are investigated by police focused on assigning blame (esp to those walking/biking).

They seldom consider ways that street layout, vehicle design, or other factors might have contributed.
Read 9 tweets
Jan 10
Growing megarich by transforming the car industry – and then risking it all by buying a media company, attacking minorities, cozying up to tyrants, fighting unions, and alienating a wide swath of the country?

Henry Ford did it first.

Me in @Slate (🧵⤵️)
A few points of comparison:

“Transforming the car industry”

Ford: Assembly lines and interchangeable parts

Musk: Making EVs cool and selling them directly to consumers
“Buying a media company and using it to attack a vulnerable minority”

Ford: Using the Dearborn Independent to spread antisemitism

Musk: Belittling transgender people on Twitter
Read 10 tweets
Jan 9
I'm at @USDOT's #TRBAM session re: roadway safety.

I'll give USDOT credit: They start by showing per capita roadway death rates for other countries, and then poll the TRB crowd, asking what they think the US fatality rate is (the audience's estimate was too low).

Good message
Deputy Secretary @Pollytrott: "It's really incredible that the US road fatality rate is 5x the United Kingdom...There are a lot of ways you can explain that." And then she moved on.

I'd like to hear her talk about those explanations!
.@NHTSAgov head Ann Carlson:

"We are updating NCAP [federal crash safety ratings] and hope to have a new round completed in the next six months."

She says it will include pedestrian protection.

Context on NCAP in the article below
Read 5 tweets
Jan 4
In @TheAtlantic I make the case against enormous, supercharged electric behemoths:

"[The] focus on large, battery-powered SUVs and trucks reinforces a destructive American desire to drive something bigger, faster, and heavier than everyone else."

For the planet’s sake, we must replace gas guzzlers with electric vehicles.

But electrification shouldn’t reinforce the worst habits of US carmakers:
-Truck/SUV bloat that endangers all other road users
-Needlessly quick acceleration, which can kill
Automakers are now shifting their EV models toward big, pricy SUVs and trucks, just as they did with gas cars.

Oversized vehicles have helped create the US road safety crisis. This driver was unable to see 9 kids lined up in front of their SUV.
Read 10 tweets
Dec 29, 2022
I wrote ~40 articles in 2022, focusing on 3 themes:

🔷 The US has failed at road safety. Time for a reboot.
🔷 Better to focus on “mundane mobility” solutions that splashy new tech
🔷 Batteries + Small vehicles = Amazing Opportunities

A 🧵 with highlights

In Jan. I interviewed @SecretaryPete about @USDOT's new safety strategy. It’s a constructive doc.

But @NHTSAgov still ignores the safety of those outside of cars, and US crash death are at a 16-year high. We have a long way to go.
A core problem: The insularity of US road safety professionals who cannot explain why US crash death rates are several times higher than in other countries

I wrote a @CityLab series comparing the US to its peers, culminating in this deep dive.
Read 16 tweets
Dec 27, 2022
My top mobility policy of 2022:

Denver offering residents $400 off an e-bike or $900 off an e-cargo bike (low-income residents get more).

4,700+ have participated. According to the city, the avg recipient now uses an e-bike/cargo e-bike in lieu of a car ~3.4x/week.

E--bikes are fantastic – for the planet, health, and road safety.

Often overlooked: Their battery is ~1-2% the size of an electric car battery, which frees up scarce material for *other* batteries.

More batteries --> Faster electrification of transport.
Denver launched its program in April. It’s been wildly popular from the outset.

Notably, recipients get the rebate at the point of purchase – they don’t have to wait to claim it on their taxes.

Read 7 tweets

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