Canadian Underwriter

Will electric vehicles increase the severity of motor vehicle injuries?

September 12, 2021   by Jason Contant

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Occupants in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid models are less likely to be injured in a crash than people in similar gas-powered vehicles, according to a new report.

Lithium-ion batteries is the primary power source for today’s EVs. This means that these vehicles tend to weigh more than otherwise similar gasoline-powered vehicles. The additional weight has meant that occupants in EVs and hybrid models are less likely to be injured, said the report, released Thursday by CCC Intelligent Solutions Inc., a Chicago-based cloud platform that connects more than 30,000 automakers, insurers, collision repairers and parts suppliers.

“Unfortunately, when one of these heavier vehicles hits a lighter weight vehicle, the occupants in the lighter weight vehicle are at higher risk for injury as the added weight increases the force of impact,” said the report, titled Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream – Implications for the P&C Insurance Economy. “The way vehicles have been designed for crash worthiness may need to change as well, as some of the heaviest components of the vehicle, like the engine, have been moved to the base or rear of the vehicle, potentially changing the types and severity of motor vehicle injuries.”

The number of EVs on roads continues to grow, and with this growth comes increased complexity for insurers and collisions repairers. There are still only a small number of EV auto claims and repairs — in the U.S., EVs accounted for only 0.54% of CCC’s national industry repairable appraisal volume. However, as sales ramp further, claim and repair volumes will grow, the report noted.

CCC has already found that the average cost of repairs for a small EV is nearly 3% higher compared to a small internal combustion engine (ICE) car. Supplements accounted for 14% of the repair cost for the EVs versus only 11% for a similar internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

The analysis used data from national industry direct repair program repairs from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021 for the following subset of vehicles: driveable repairs for EV small non-luxury cars one to three years old versus driveable repairs for comparable ICB non-luxury cars from the same automakers.

The analysis also found:

  • Replacement parts’ spend as a share of the overall repair costs was higher for the EV small cars, despite the EV small cars having 9.1 parts replaced per claim on average versus 9.6 parts for the ICE small cars;
  • The average number of labour hours per repair were 22.0 for the EV small cars versus 25.6 hours for the ICE small cars. “Yet despite fewer labour hours, repairer productivity for the EVs was less, and a larger share of repairs were brought back to the repairer after vehicle pick up,” the report said.
  • Despite slightly less average time for vehicle in-vehicle out days for the EV small cars, the Net Promoter Score was four points lower for the EVs, and several other customer service scores were also rated lower for EVs.

“While this analysis looks only at a small subset of vehicles, it provides some perspective on some of the trends we will see emerge as more electric vehicles are bought, crashed, and repaired,” the report concluded. “Electrification is just one of the trends within the automotive sector driving change in the vehicle auto claims and collision repair industries. However, since electric vehicle sales are growing quickly, anticipating the changes and new requirements they bring is important.”


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