Car haulers are pushing the Biden administration and lawmakers to increase truck weight limits on U.S. highways so they can transport more heavy electric vehicles, a move fiercely opposed by the rail industry and safety advocates who say the heavier loads are significantly more dangerous.
Even before a recent spike in EV sales, U.S. roads have been carrying heavier loads, as cars and trucks climbed from an average of 3,200 pounds to 4,200 pounds over the last four decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
EVs, with their heavy batteries, weigh significantly more than gas-fueled cars. While they make up less than 1 percent of cars on U.S. roads, President Joe Biden wants EVs to reach half of vehicle sales by 2030, and he and his Democratic Party have put billions in federal funds behind the goal.
Car haulers, the pipeline of the auto industry, move thousands of cars each day from factory parking lots, ports and rail yards to dealers, often using open double-decker trailers. If decades-old U.S. road weight limits are not increased, it could slow deliveries and increase costs, putting at risk this historic bet on zero-emission vehicles, they say.
"The truth is we will not be able move as many electric vehicles under the current weight limit. That could mean more trucks on the road, delays in orders and increased costs," said Sarah Amico, executive chairman of Jack Cooper, among the largest car haulers in North America.
Individual trailers are currently restricted by federal highway safety standards dating to 1975 to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, including a truck and trailer that can account for half of the limit.