The Growing Issue

Well, here we go. We talked about this a few months ago, and electric vehicles are now starting to see some pretty significant insurance claims. There’s an article from Headline Wealth where they talk about electric vehicles being totaled and having to go to the junkyard because of some very, very minor collision or collision damage. Why is that? Why does an electric vehicle have to get totaled or junked because of minor damage? Well, it’s because of the way the car’s engineered.

The Fragility of EV Battery Packs

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

The Engine Placement Difference

What is the other reason? Well, the biggest reason is that in a gasoline vehicle, that motor and that engine are under the hood. It’s a ball of metal that’s under the hood. You’ve lifted 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 on the sides protected by the tires, the engine on a gas vehicle is unlikely to be damaged in a minor collision. However, on a battery-powered electric vehicle, the battery itself, which is like the engine, is the most expensive part of the car.

Vulnerable Battery Placement

It’s a flat electronic device that extends all the way under the floor of the vehicle, front to back, side to side. So if you have a side impact that pushes in your rocker panel even by a couple inches and it breaches that battery, all bets are off. According to a lot of insurance companies, they’re being forced to write off electric vehicles with only minor damage because that battery is a lot more fragile, it’s a lot more sensitive, and it’s easier to be destroyed. And unlike the battery of a gasoline vehicle, you can’t go to Pep Boys and buy a battery for 100 bucks. That’s a $20,000 or $30,000 piece of equipment, and sometimes it’s worth more than the car, and 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 consider a car totaled when you have to replace a battery pack.

Challenges in Battery Repair

Even so, even if you do want to replace it, some car makers, when battery packs are available, 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 at an early stage, you’ve lost all the advantage in terms of carbon emissions.

Environmental Implications

What does that mean? Well, in order for an EV (electric vehicle) 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 vehicles, these EVs, 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 and it goes over a bump or maybe it goes over a curve the wrong way, the battery itself can be breached internally even without any external damage being visible.