It appears that electric vehicles are obviously going to replace internal combustion cars at some point in the not-too-distant future. All major carmakers are throwing billions and billions of dollars into developing EVs to replace their fossil-fueled vehicles.
To be honest, I'm not intrinsically opposed to them. I think they're a neat and exciting technology. I just don't think they're quite ready for prime time yet.
Here's one reason why:
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."
Everyone who has bought an electric vehicle thus far, to the electric vehicle manufacturers:
They could've! But they didn't. I can't imagine why. Maybe because you wouldn't have bought a nascent technology that apparently poops out after a fender bender.
"But wait!" you're saying. "Why can't you just replace the battery after it's damaged? After all, we can do that when the batteries in our gas-powered cars die, right?"
Well, you tell me:
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.
That's right: If you want to replace one of those batteries, you are going to have to shell out tens of thousands.
The implications for an electric vehicle's green profile, meanwhile, is, well ... it is not good:
"The number of cases is going to increase, so the handling of batteries is a crucial point," said Christoph Lauterwasser, managing director of the Allianz Center for Technology, a research institute owned by Allianz.
Lauterwasser noted EV battery production emits far more CO2 than fossil-fuel models, meaning EVs must be driven for thousands of miles before they offset those extra emissions.
"If you throw away the vehicle at an early stage, you've lost pretty much all advantage in terms of CO2 emissions," he said.