Hulking SUVs and weighty electric cars are becoming so heavy that drivers are verging on needing an HGV licence to legally drive them, claims a new report.
Owners of the heaviest cars today could already unwittingly be breaking the law because the sheer bulk of their motors could exceed the legal limit for a standard driving licence, says Carwow.
Although the site’s claims would require drivers to load up their cars to an extreme level, it does highlight how much heavier modern day cars have become.
It identified the ten weightiest motors on sale today (listed below) and warned that loading them up with five big adults passengers and a large dog in the boot could put them beyound the legal weight threshold of a car licence, which could see them stung with a fine of up to £300 and receive points.
A weight on your mind: The bulkiest of new cars on sale today are so heavy that loading them up with passengers could put motorists dangerous close to breaking the law for having the wrong driving licence
The maximum legal vehicle weight – inclusive of passengers and luggage – for someone with a standard ‘Category B’ car driving licence is 3.5 tonnes.
Anything above that weight means a conventional licence becomes invalid and a Category C1 driving licence would be needed, which can only be attained by sitting a separate driving test to prove you have the capacity to operate a vehicle weighing up to 7.5 tonnes.
According to Carwow, the two heaviest motors on sale in Britain right now both tip the scales at a colossal 2.7 tonnes.
The models in question are the £145,000 electric BMW XM and luxurious £170,000 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 SUV, both of which measure in at 2,710kg.
The heaviest maximum vehicle weight for someone with a standard ‘Category B’ driving licence is 3.5 tonnes. Going over that weight requires a ‘Category C1’ HGV licence
Ten of the heaviest cars on sale
=1. BMW XM (plug-in hybrid) – 2,710kg
=1. Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 (petrol) – 2,710kg
3. Range Rover PHEV (plug-in hybrid) – 2,695kg
=4. Range Rover Sport PHEV (plug-in hybrid) – 2,660kg
=4. Rolls-Royce Cullinan (petrol) – 2,660kg
6. BMW i7 (electric) – 2,640kg
7. Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase (petrol) – 2,610kg
8. Bentley Bentayga Hybrid (plug-in hybrid) – 2,570kg
9. Tesla Model X Long Range Performance (electric) – 2,562kg
19. Mercedes EQV (electric) – 2,560kg
NB: Vehicle weights based on kerb weight listed by DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung), the German organisation that defines standards for measurement which defines standards for measurement
Adding five – relatively heavy – adult occupants each weighing 120kg (18st 12lb) would bring these vehicles’ gross weights to 3,310kg.
While you’d need to be loading cargo like an Italian Job driver stealing gold bullion to exceed the 3.5-tonne driving licence limit, the addition of a St Bernard dog in the boot could tip the vehicle’s overall weight over the legal allowance for a conventional car driving licence.
In fact, drivers would be breaking the law before they breached the 3.5-tonne mark based on the manufacturer’s own recommendations.
BMW, for instance, says the gross permitted vehicle weight (GVW) for the XM is 3,300kg, while Mercedes sets the boundary at 3,250kg for the GLS 600.
BMW’s plug-in hybrid XM SUV, which costs north of £145,000, is one of the heaviest new cars on sale at 2,710kg
Matching the plug-in hybrid BMW is this super-luxurious Mercedes-Maybach GLS. Though priced from £170,000, not many are on the road
It is illegal to drive cars loaded above their GVW, meaning five 120kg adults would make both cars too heavy to drive, Carwow says.
Loading these cars above those gross limits would be breaking the law, with drivers risking a fine of £300 and three penalty points.
Anyone loading them above 3,500kg would be breaking the law twice: once for exceeding the cars’ GVW, and once for driving a vehicle that’s heavier than their licence allows them to drive.
The latter offence risks a further three to six penalty points for ‘driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’.
Among the heaviest cars on sale is the Range Rover PHEV. It tips the scales at 2,695kg, so 800kg short of the category B driving licence limit
The Rolls-Royce Cullinan is one large – and very expensive – luxury car. It weighs a massive 2,660kg and costs from £264,000
The i7 is BMW’s electric luxury saloon, which has been unveiled in the last 12 months. With its big battery onboard, it weighs 2,640kg and costs just over £107,000 in UK showrooms
All the examples in the top 10 are exceptionally expensive luxury vehicles, meaning most drivers won’t have to worry about this potential scenario.
While it is unlikely that owners of these models will regularly be carrying enough passengers and luggage to breach licence limits – the average weight of a player on the English rugby team, for example, is 102kg – Carwow says it is ‘more than feasible’ that this could be the case on infrequent occasions.
And there is a recent case of car being so heavy that it could quite easily surpass the 3.5-tonne maximum requirement for a conventional driving licence.
Earlier this week, This is Money revealed exclusive details about Latvian brand Dartz Motorz’s latest armoured SUV, which without passengers or luggage tips the scale at 3,100kg.
The issue of exceeding a car’s gross vehicle weight is also not unique to heavy cars.
Dacia’s Jogger seven-seat estate weighs 1,205kg and has a GVW of 1,862kg, meaning if seven occupants were on board, each could weigh no more than 93.9kg on average.
Another Rolls-Royce in Carwow’s top 10 heaviest new cars is the Phantom limo. At over £300,000, not many of us have to worry about its weight
Bentley makes a plug-in hybrid variant of its Bentayga SUV, with prices for the petrol-electric version starting at £162,500. At 2,570kg, it is the eighth bulkiest model on sale in the UK
One of the only mainstream cars to make the list of 10 bulky motors is the Tesla Model X, with a lot of its weight coming from the Falcon-wing doors. It tips the scale at 2,562kg officially
The £78,000 electric Mercedes EQV people carrier weighs 2,560kg. That’s a full tonne below the legal weight limit of a conventional driving licence allowance
Why are modern cars becoming so heavy?
Weight gain is often exacerbated by the switch to electric and hybrid cars, however, with EV battery packs being several hundred kilos, and plug-in hybrid powertrains adding significant mass to vehicles.
Three of the heaviest vehicles Carwow uncovered were electric cars, while a further four were plug-in hybrids.
Stricter safety requirements, including making cars more robust and filling them with technology to protect occupants and pedestrians, has also pushed the average weight of the latest cars much higher than they were just a decade ago.
Hugo Griffiths, consumer editor at the car sales site, admits it would be a ‘rare scenario’ for owners of the heaviest cars on sale today to exceed the permitted gross weight for a standard UK driving licence, but said it is sign that laws might need to change, especially with electric models likely to become leaden with even bigger batteries to boost driving range.
The Government in 2018 acted to make changes to the licence weight restrictions for electric vans driven by those with Category B permits, upping the maximum weight limit from 3.5 tonnes to 4.25 tonnes – though drivers need to sit an additional five hours of training in order to qualify. However, there is no similar allowance for electric cars.
‘Cars have been getting heavier for some time now. Back in the 1970s, a family car like the Ford Cortina weighed less than 1,000kg, while the original Range Rover was a tonne or so lighter than its modern-day counterpart.
‘Consumer demand and technological advancements have seen a rise in the number of creature comforts fitted to cars, with features including electric windows and climate control piling on the pounds.
‘Safety improvements have also led to increasing weights. Side-impact bars, airbags, laminated glass and traction-control systems help prevent collisions or reduce their severity, but features that make cars safer also tend to increase their mass.
‘Added to this is the push towards electrification: a petrol engine might weigh 150kg or so, while an EV battery pack can easily come in at 500kg.’
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