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Electric car write-offs could be more likely due to high cost of battery repairs

High repair costs and lack of data sharing between manufacturers and garages could be making electric car write-offs more likely when the battery is damaged

Electric car servicing car on ramp

Owners of electric vehicles have been warned that their cars could be written off following a minor accident if the battery pack is damaged.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, auction site Copart has salvaged a number of low-mileage written-off EVs, around half of which have suffered only minor battery damage.

The paper published an anonymous quote from a senior insurance industry member, who claimed that vehicle manufacturers aren’t sharing diagnostic data, because they’re worried about independent garages botching repairs.

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The expert confirmed that they’d seen electric vehicles being sent to scrap after minor accidents due to issues relating to the battery pack. These packs are not only expensive to buy, they’re expensive to repair, too. Jonathan Fong, senior policy adviser at the Association of British Insurers, told the Telegraph that much greater training for independent mechanics to work on EVs is required.

This sentiment was echoed by Chris Payne, head of engineering at motor insurer LV, who said that “only a few qualified technicians in the UK are able to remove a battery, let alone repair it”.

With batteries sometimes accounting for up to half of an EV’s value and repairs being so expensive, complex and time-consuming, the most straightforward option therefore ends up being to write the car off.

But Matt Cleevely, managing director of independent specialist electric vehicle garage Cleevely Electric Vehicles in Gloucestershire, believes the issue is not as common as some make out.

He told Auto Express: “When you talk about batteries needing repair after an accident, that’s a fairly rare thing. The only time I’m aware of it was when a VW ID.3 came in following an accident and the pyrotechnic fuse within the battery pack had blown because the airbags had gone off. That had to be replaced and it needed to be programmed by, not even the main dealer, but the factory. So it was a fairly costly repair.”

Cleevely says this isn’t a problem that should discourage drivers from moving over to EVs. He added: “The frustrating part for any independent garage is when a car needs to go back to the dealer or manufacturer. 

“In that instance, we could change the fuse, but couldn’t complete the repair because of the software required in order to do it. This isn’t just an issue with EVs, however, and it affects petrol and diesel models, too.”

Have you had experience of electric cars needing expensive repairs linked to battery damage? Let us know in the comments…

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