Inability to repair damaged electric vehicle batteries presents sustainability problems

GM Strike-Electric Vehicles
FILE – This Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 file photo shows a Chevrolet Volt hybrid car charging at a ChargePoint charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles. If U.S. consumers ever ditch fuel burners for electric vehicles, then the United Auto Workers union is in trouble. Gone would be thousands of jobs at engine and transmission plants across the industrial Midwest, replaced by smaller workforces at squeaky-clean mostly automated factories that mix up chemicals to make batteries. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) Richard Vogel/AP

Inability to repair damaged electric vehicle batteries presents sustainability problems

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Experts are questioning how sustainable the push for vehicles going electric may be in light of it being nearly impossible to repair slightly damaged battery packs after accidents.

“We’re buying electric cars for sustainability reasons,” Matthew Avery with the automotive risk intelligence company Thatcham Research said. “But an EV isn’t very sustainable if you’ve got to throw the battery away after a minor collision.”

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While Ford and General Motors have reportedly made their EV battery packs easier to repair, experts suggest that Tesla’s Model Y battery pack has “zero repairability.”

Because the cost to replace battery packs can be upward of tens of thousands of dollars, representing nearly half of the EV’s original price tag, insurance companies are being forced to scrap them, even those EVs with low mileage, and raise premiums.

“An insurance company is not going to take that risk because they’re facing a lawsuit later on if something happens with that vehicle and they did not total it,” Peter Gruber with Gruber Motor Company said.

Experts are warning the advantage of EVs lowering cars’ impact on the environment is at risk, a report noted.

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“The number of cases is going to increase, so the handling of batteries is a crucial point,” Christoph Lauterwasser, managing director of the Allianz Center for Technology, said. “If you throw away the vehicle at an early stage, you’ve lost pretty much all advantage in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.”

Experts’ warnings come as federal and state leaders have sought to ban the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars within the next decade.

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