For many electric vehicles, there is no way to repair or assess even slightly damaged battery packs after accidents, forcing insurance companies to write off cars with few miles – leading to higher premiums and undercutting gains from going electric.
And now those battery packs are piling up in scrapyards in some countries, a previously unreported and expensive gap in what was supposed to be a “circular economy.”
“We’re buying electric cars for sustainability reasons,” said Matthew Avery, research director at automotive risk intelligence company Thatcham Research. “But an EV isn’t very sustainable if you’ve got to throw the battery away after a minor collision.”
Battery packs can cost tens of thousands of dollars and represent up to 50% of an EV’s price tag, often making it uneconomical to replace them.
While some automakers like Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N) said they have made battery packs easier to repair, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has taken the opposite tack with its Texas-built Model Y, whose new structural battery pack has been described by experts as having “zero repairability.”
Read more: Scratched EV battery? Your insurer may have to junk the whole car