Way back in the mid-1980s, communist Yugoslavia exported the Yugo, a compact car that sold for around $4,000. It was so poorly made that bumping into a pole at 5 mph could total it.
Fast forward to today, and a new class of cars has a similar problem. A minor accident can cause a total loss, even if the car’s been driven only a few miles. The only difference is that these cars aren’t cheap imports from some godforsaken socialist state. These are state-of-art electric vehicles that come with an average sticker price of $55,000.
Why are insurance companies totaling low-mileage EVs that have been in a fender bender? For the same reason you could total a new Yugo when backing out of a parking spot. The cost of repair is exorbitant.
As Reuters reported recently, “For many electric vehicles, there is no way to repair or assess even slightly damaged battery packs after accidents,” which means the only viable option is to replace the battery, which represents about half the cost of the car.
A replacement battery for a $44,000 Tesla Model 3 can cost up to $20,000.
One expert told Reuters that Tesla’s Model Y has “zero repairability” because its battery is built into the structure of the car.
As a result, drivers are finding that even a minor accident ends up with their shiny new EVs being hauled away to the junkyard.
Reuters’ search of EV salvage sales in the U.S. and Europe found a large number of low-mileage EVs made by Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai, and others being scrapped.
“At Synetiq, the UK’s largest salvage company, head of operations Michael Hill said over the last 12 months the number of EVs in the isolation bay – where they must be checked to avoid fire risk – at the firm’s Doncaster yard has soared, from perhaps a dozen every three days to up to 20 per day,” Reuters reports.
Insuring an electric car is already 27% more expensive, on average, than a gasoline-powered one. If insurers keep totaling new EVs with minor damage, those rates will only go up.
This won’t be a problem just for EV owners. You can bet that the environmentalists pushing electric cars will soon start complaining that insurance companies are “discriminating” against EVs and demanding that they spread those costs around more widely – forcing owners of conventional cars to subsidize EVs.
EV advocates say not to worry. Car makers, they say, are designing batteries to be more modular and replaceable. They promise that repair costs will eventually come down, and all will be well.
Maybe so, but that’s why force-feeding this technology is so reckless.
In a normal market, carmakers would work out such kinks before mass producing a vehicle, much less converting their entire fleets over to a new and relatively untested technology. If they couldn’t resolve problems of affordability, reliability, and repairability to consumers’ satisfaction, automakers would scrap the effort and move on to something else.
But our elites think they know better. And they want new cars to be 100% electric within a decade. So, carmakers feel like they have little choice but to plow ahead.
Which brings up another way that today’s EVs are like the Yugos of yesteryear.
One auto critic said of the Yugo that it “had the distinct feeling of something assembled at gunpoint.”
That was probably literally true in the case of the Yugo. But it is essentially the situation with EVs today. Consumers aren’t banging on dealership doors demanding EVs. Ford reported last week that its e-car division is losing billions of dollars a year.
Car companies are pouring money into electric cars only because the government is holding a gun to their heads, saying build EVs or die.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board