Getting behind the wheel of new electric vehicles has become a signature move for self-proclaimed “car guy” President Joe Biden. But his choice of car has some climate advocates hitting the brakes.
Those EVs have one big thing in common: their batteries.
The Ford Lightning’s battery weighs 1,800 pounds, while the Hummer EV’s 2,923-pound battery alone weighs more than a gasoline-powered Honda Civic. And that extra weight comes with some negative consequences.
For starters, heavier cars mean more wear and tear on roads. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board has also warned that big EVs like the Hummer could increase the risk of serious injury or death for pedestrians and other drivers when they’re in accidents.
Then there are the climate concerns. Bigger batteries require a lot of critical minerals, which, for the most part, are extracted using fossil fuel power. It also takes a lot more electricity to power those cars, and the electric grid still relies heavily on fossil fuels.
So while the Hummer EV may become better for the climate when more renewables come online, for now, it emits more carbon per mile than the most efficient gasoline-powered cars.
All these factors have led some climate advocates to call on the Biden administration and automakers to build and promote smaller EVs. But others would like to see federal funding go toward another overlooked climate solution: public transit.