Electric Vehicles — the Dirty Little Secret

We are on the verge of great changes in the EV space. More car manufacturers are delivering actual units, more charging stations, and older vehicles are getting enough miles to smoke out the idiosyncrasies of EVs.

Mercedes Benz concept car the Vision EQXX that will be able to run 650 miles between charges. Game changer?

EV Battery Life

An EV propulsion plant is a motor driven by the power stored in a battery.

Tesla Model 3 battery pack.

Like an internal combustion engine being refueled with gasoline, a car battery must be re-charged with power. This power for the EV is stored in the battery pack which is gigantic.

Tesla Model S battery pack. Note the modular design.

Tesla offers a 8-year or 100,000 mile pro-rated battery warranty.

What can go wrong with an EV battery, Big Red Car?

Ahhh, now we are at the nub of things. We don’t really know, but we’re learning.

 1. Short recharge cycles can sap the strength of a battery. This is true of a battery operated leaf blower or an EV.

 2. To work well, an EV battery has to be worked hard, discharged, re-charged, and regularly. Any deviation from that process and battery life is shortened.

 3. The EV battery is located beneath the car and is prone to road damage. Ride over a curb and you may require a new battery.

Have a fairly benign fender bender and the EV battery may require replacement.

Get a good dunking and the battery may require replacement.

 4. Battery performance is incredibly sensitive to outside temperature. It is hard to see how an EV works in Chicago in the winter time.

If you can only drive your EV half of the year, what happens to battery life? It is compromised.

The EV battery is not going to run out to 400,000 miles like an ICE can. Not going to happen, so this repair will happen about four times during that period of time.

So, what, Big Red Car?

The “so what” is the cost.

 1. It costs about $15-20,000 for a new battery and you will also have to replace the skid plate, wiring harness, and battery coolant.

 2. EV labor is expensive. It takes about 15-20 hours to replace an EV battery and that labor is priced at $175-300/hour.

None of this makes any difference if the replacement is covered by the warranty or insurance, but if it isn’t, then changing out a battery is a $25,000 proposition — estimate only.

Here is a link to a story about a Tesla Model 3 battery pack replacement with a remanufactured battery pack for approximately $16,000. You can see the invoice.

Tesla Model 3 Battery Pack Replacement

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

We are just now learning the ownership cost of operating an electric vehicle. We have the lessons on battery re-charging wiring, range and time to re-charge, but now comes the life cycle cost analysis of having to replace batteries and it is quite an expense.

If you own an EV for a long period of time, it is hard to see how this doesn’t happen to you.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great week.

The dirty little battery secret of all EVs being pondered with a joint by Mr. Tesla himself.