A few months ago, we discussed how electric cars are now starting to see some pretty significant insurance claims. Now, here’s an article from Headline Wealth with a headline where they talk about electric cars being totaled and having to go to the junkyard because of some very, very minor collision or collision damage. 

Why is that? Why do electric cars have to be totaled or junked because of minor damage? Well, it’s because of the way the cars are engineered, and here’s what I mean. The battery pack in an electric vehicle is a very, very sensitive electronic piece of equipment. So, an impact that doesn’t even strike the battery pack can jostle it around enough to create damage inside.

Think about when you drop your cell phone or when a computer falls off a desk or something like that. The electronic components inside of that device could be damaged just from the impact of stopping quickly. It doesn’t actually have to be crunched by something striking it.

What is the other reason? Well, the biggest reason is that in a gasoline vehicle, the motor or engine is under the hood. That’s a ball of metal that’s under the hood. When you lift up a hood, you see that ball of metal. It doesn’t extend throughout the whole car. It’s only in one place. So, unless a car is hit very hard in the nose, where there’s a lot of protection with that bumper, and the sides protected by the tires, the engine on a gas vehicle is unlikely to be damaged in a minor collision.

However, in a battery vehicle and electric vehicle, the battery itself, which is like the engine, is the most expensive part of the car. It’s a flat electronic device that extends all the way under the floor of the vehicle from front to back and side to side. So, if you have a side impact that pushes in your rocker panel even by a couple of inches and it breaches that battery, all bets are off. And according to a lot of insurance companies, they’re being forced to write off electric cars with only minor damage because of this.

That battery is a lot more fragile, sensitive, and easier to be destroyed. And unlike the battery of a gasoline vehicle, you can’t go to Pepboys and buy a battery for a hundred bucks. That’s a 20 or $30,000 piece of equipment, and sometimes it’s worth more than the car. According to the article, that can be half the cost of an electric vehicle, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, making it more economical for insurance to declare the car totaled.

When you have to replace a battery pack, even if you do want to replace it, some car makers are unwilling to give the information needed to repair it because it’s part of their proprietary knowledge of the electric vehicle.

If you throw away the vehicle early, you’ve lost all the advantages in terms of carbon emissions. What does that mean? Well, in order for an EV  to make sense for the environment, it has to be on the road for 10 or 15 years to offset the manufacturing costs or the manufacturing impact. So, we’re going to see more of this, where these electric cars are more likely to be totaled or junked with a very minor impact. Sometimes the impact may not even damage much of the body panels, but if it’s a severe vibration like going over a bump or a curb the wrong way, the battery itself can be breached internally even without any external damage being visible.