Though shipping an electric car may look complicated, in reality, it is a straightforward process not much different from shipping a regular car. Ensuring eco-friendly transportation and relatively affordable costs can require extra time and work in finding an experienced and dependable professional company to assist you. In this article, we will review shipping methods, preparations, precautions, regulations, and other relevant information to help you better understand the process.
Batteries of Electric & Hybrid Vehicles
Electric cars operate on rechargeable lithium batteries which are much heavier than regular gas-powered auto batteries because they contain more compartments for energy storage, adding significantly to weight and size. For this reason, shipping carriers charge extra for the transportation of hybrid and electric cars. Several factors influence the cost of shipping a car, and weight is one of the most significant ones. In addition, transporters justify the cause with more licensing, professional care, and equipment — all of which is necessary to move potentially dangerous lithium batteries.
Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Since rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can store much higher amounts of energy, they also consequently have higher chances of bursting into flames from overheating. This is not only the case with electric cars but with smaller devices such as laptops and smartphones. You might have already heard such stories before, especially of devices setting suddenly aflame on flights because of pressure applied to the batteries.
Moreover, the oxidizer and fuel for an electric car are kept within the battery which adds a significant obstacle to extinguish the fire. High temperatures produced by the flames can melt aluminum and explode the batteries as a result. Overall, it is a considerable risk for drivers and transportation companies.
The concern is quite well-known and widespread causing many companies to implement an array of safety mechanisms such as:
- Electronically-controlled liquid cooling systems
- Multiple fuse layers
- Sensors capable to automatically disconnect batteries at potentially dangerous temperatures
- Added protection in cases of collision
- Overcharge prevention
If you are interested in learning more about the safety of lithium-ion batteries, you can do so here.
So, Can I Ship My Electric Car?
Although the potential dangers sound, and are, serious, the risks are quite slim. Unless there was a significant overlook at a factory, electric vehicles are a very safe mode of transportation. Its increasing popularity and ubiquity have increased the demand for transportation of electric cars and many companies have adapted accordingly. Nowadays, professional carriers offer electric and hybrid car shipping services with modern safety procedures.
Is It Really Dangerous to Ship an Electric Car?
The answer is no. The biggest risk comes from lithium-ion batteries but, since the vehicles are turned off the entire trip, the chances of the electric vehicle bursting into flames are incredibly low. A road accident or a fire originating in a collision by another car pose higher danger though it is still a low risk. Furthermore, even if an accident occurs, the transported automobiles are still secured onto the truck or within a container which would prevent a lot of damage. Plus, as was mentioned earlier, companies have implemented protection in case of a collision.
Though the risks are slim and the popularity is increasing, many auto hauling businesses still do not take on electric cars or charge extra for them. This mostly stems from limited information about and experience working with them.
Nonetheless, there are still reliable, professional companies that recognize that shipping hybrid and electric cars is the same as shipping regular gas-powered cars. The loading, unloading, transportation, and safety procedures are the same in all cases.
US Regulations For Electric Car Shipment
The potential dangers of lithium-ion batteries call for strict regulations. For example, secured and proper packaging in the duration of shipment is a must. As a customer, however, you should not worry about these regulations as they are primarily the responsibility of shipping companies. A dependable, experienced company will know and adhere to the rules. Aside from battery-related directions, the rest is pretty much the same as with regular automobiles. From your end, thorough preparation is a helpful step to ensure smooth and safe shipping.
Though auto hauling carriers will make sure your car is transported safely, you, too, need to thoroughly prepare to minimize the risks of damage. In fact, many drivers will refuse to take on a car if its owner failed to take the necessary preparation steps. This is especially true in cases of long out-of-state journeys or international trips. Below are some basic steps:
- Clean Your Car. It is a simple but important and mandatory step for safe transportation. Whether you are shipping a gasoline car or an electric car, this step is always applicable. Clean, reflective surfaces bring out any scratches, dents, or other types of damage which can be spotted immediately and included in an inspection report. That way, you can file a claim with an insurance company right away for any damages that occurred on the road.
- Inspect Your Car. Make sure you take a look at the exterior as well as the interior. Take several pictures of your vehicle and be present and attentive during the inspection.
- Hire a Mechanic. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition prior to the shipment. Although you can do it yourself, hiring a mechanic to take a look at your electric car would be very beneficial. Not only would you receive a professional assessment, but you can also schedule to fix it right away. Avoid including a damaged car to a shipment, especially if it has any leaks. In addition to posing safety risks, existing car damages can cause you to get a rejection from shipping companies.
- Charge Your Battery. Though your initial instinct may be to drain it completely to prevent all risks of setting it aflame, there is really no need. The battery just needs to be secured against short circuits and packed properly to prevent movement. A charged battery would be needed so that the car can be turned on to load and unload as well as for the road from the destination terminal.
- Check Your Insurance. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, automobile shipping carriers must have liability insurance. Be sure to find out how much coverage a transporter holds and what it includes prior to booking a shipment. You can also purchase your own in-transport coverage for other types of expensive damages that are not provided by haulers. Better safe than sorry especially bearing in mind the value of your electric car.
This is not a full list of preparation steps to take. For more information, speak to your auto transporter representative.
Different Ways of Shipping an Electric Car
Depending on where your new location is, you can choose between a truck, a train, a plane, or a boat. The latter two options are best for overseas shipments. As for local deliveries, shipping via truck or train would be much cheaper. Trains are generally used by large companies for large shipments and, depending on the route, they can be pricey.
Trucks are a great option and you can pick between open carriers and enclosed carriers. The former is more economical but leaves the car exposed, whereas enclosed trailers provide added protection from external elements such as inclement weather. The downside of the enclosed method is a higher price and more ecological pollution.
The Cost of Shipping an Electric Car
In general, the shipping process for electric cars is very similar to gasoline cars so the shipping bill should not be much bigger. Nonetheless, increased weight from the battery may cause a higher fee, since weight is a considerable factor in determining a quote. In addition, your type of electric car might be especially valuable so you would want to ship it in an enclosed trailer. This, too, will cost extra.
Electric cars are an investment and reservations about driving them very long distances to a new location are understandable. If you are planning to move a long way, shipping might be the best option for you. In addition to convenience and time, hiring a carrier prevents unnecessary wear and tear and other road-related damage. Professional companies prioritize safety and execute very strict shipping standards to ensure a secure and worry-free journey.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.