Parking garages across the US could be at risk of collapse over the weight of heavier electric vehicles, experts warned, as one such garage fell in Lower Manhattan, killing one person and injuring five.
Chris Whapples, a structural engineer and consultant working on new regulations for multi-story garages in the UK, said officials need to understand how the rise in EVs will affect current car parks.
“I don’t want to be too alarmist, but there definitely is the potential for some of the early car parks in poor condition to collapse,” Whapples told The Telegraph.
“Operators need to be aware of electric vehicle weights, and get their car parks assessed from a strength point of view, and decide if they need to limit weight.”
The warning came less than two weeks before Tuesday’s deadly collapse at the NYC parking garage, which reportedly had active violations dating back to 2003.
The victim has been preliminarily identified as Willis Moore, who was listed on LinkedIn as the “location manager” for the Little Man Parking garage.
“We’re still in the process of recovery because there is still a person who’s there that we have to remove from that location,” Mayor Eric Adams told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the body of the deceased.
Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol noted that there were more than four dozen cars on the roof at the time of the collapse and that there may have been electric cars involved.
“There’s over 50 cars on the roof. The building is not structurally sound, you think about hazardous materials that are in the garage, right gas tanks, fluids, further complicated by the fact that there are possibly some electric vehicles in that garage,” Iscol said.
Electric cars are notably heavier than their gas counterparts due to their powerful batteries.
The battery of an electric GMC Hummer, for example, weighs about 2,900 pounds, roughly the entire weight of a Honda Civic.
Likewise, the Audi E-tron SUV weighs about 5,765 pounds, much heavier than the Ford Explorer SUV, which weighs about 4,345 pounds.
Jennifer Homendy, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, outlined the weight disparity earlier this year when discussing concerns about heavy electric vehicles involved in car crashes.
Although she said it was important for America to invest in more electric vehicles, she concluded that the nation needs to have the proper infrastructure and regulations in place first.
“We have to be careful that we aren’t also creating unintended consequences: More death on our roads,” she said. “Safety, especially when it comes to new transportation policies and new technologies, cannot be overlooked.”
A multi-lingual talent head, Allen is fluent in languages such as Spanish, Russian, Italian, and many more. He has a special curiosity for the events and stories revolving in and around US and caters an uncompromising form of journalistic standard for the audiences.