Loud pipes save lives, or at least that’s the old-school train of thought in the motorcycle world. Electric vehicles don’t have pipes and don’t really make much noise, but according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, their powerful acceleration can be a compelling safety feature.
Tavares cited overtaking as a prime example of how EVs’ often crazy-quick acceleration makes them safer. “The more acceleration you have, the safer the conditions under which your overtake can be.”
He made the remarks referencing the automaker’s STLA Large platform, which can carry electric powertrains with big power numbers and 0-60 mph times as quick as 2.0 seconds. Though his logic is entertaining, it’s also at odds with the safety data. As Green Car Reports pointed out, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s research showed that increased speeds make crashes more severe, which also makes them more deadly for the people in all vehicles involved. And a recent study of accident data concluded that Teslas are the most-crashed brand on the road, presumably because drivers aren’t equipped to handle their powerful acceleration.
Excess speed and Teslas aside, other EVs in general crash at lower rates than gas vehicles. Their advanced driver aids and safety equipment help prevent crashes, not their acceleration, and high-horsepower cars can actually be a dangerous thing in the hands of younger, more inexperienced drivers. Add the extreme weight of EVs to the mix, and you can see how things could spiral out of control.
Electric vehicles are similar to gas cars in that increases in performance often come at the expense of efficiency. Increasing one typically reduces the other, so Stellantis’ claim that the STLA Large platform can support 500 miles of range likely doesn’t mean that the vehicle will deliver top performance while reaching those range numbers. Many of the automaker’s buyers will likely be happy to trade range for performance – see the Dodge Hellcat vehicles – but the large platform will support pickup trucks and other vehicles for which range is a significant selling point.