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Why Repairing Your EV Is So Expensive?

The good news is there's almost no cost to running or maintaining an EV, unless you run into someone (or vice versa), then the cost compared to a gas powered car is about 50% higher plus takes longer.


I also at bottom include an article of interest on the subject:

Toyota Chairman Says People Are Finally Seeing the Reality About EVs


Why Repairing Your EV Is So Expensive

Battery-powered vehicles face longer wait times and bigger repair bills than gasoline-engine vehicles

By Sean McLain, WSJ

Dec. 3, 2023 5:30 am ET


Electric-vehicle owners are finding a surprising downside to their new wheels: They tend to be expensive to repair after a crash.


When Scott MacFiggen’s neighbor backed into his Rivian RIVN 7.58%increase; green up pointing triangle R1T pickup truck last summer, the vehicle was left with a dent the size of a bowling ball under a rear taillamp.


MacFiggen was expecting a couple-thousand-dollar bill from the repair shop and to be without his truck for a couple of weeks. “I guess I was a little naive,” said the 51-year-old San Francisco resident. The actual bill came to $22,000, and the vehicle took 2½ months to fix.


For EVs, repairs following a collision can cost thousands of dollars more than their gas-powered counterparts, because the fixes tend to require more replacement parts, the vehicles are more complicated and fewer people do such repairs. While those issues may ease over time, first-time electric owners may be startled by the higher costs and longer wait times.


Last year, repairing an EV after a crash cost an average $6,587 compared with $4,215 for all vehicles, according to CCC Intelligent Solutions, a company that processes insurance claims for auto repairs in the U.S.


The increased costs following collisions contrast with the maintenance savings that dealers and automakers promote when trying to get buyers to switch to electric cars and trucks. In addition to not needing gas, EVs tend to require less upkeep. Not needing to do regular chores like oil changes, engine tuneups or replacement of timing belts means that electric-vehicle owners spend half as much maintaining their vehicles as their gasoline-owning counterparts, according to Consumer Reports, a nonprofit consumer organization.


Still, when EVs need repair, it can be costly. Rental-car company Hertz Global Holdings, which operates a large electric fleet mostly composed of Tesla vehicles, said its third-quarter profit was pinched in part because of the cost of repairing electric models.


Higher repair costs are also helping to drive up insurance premiums for electric owners, who pay on average $357 a month for coverage compared with $248 for gas vehicle owners, according to insurance comparison website Insurify.


“People are used to hearing that EVs have fewer parts than a combustion vehicle, but that is not the case in collision repair,” said Marc Fredman, chief strategy officer for CCC Intelligent Solutions.


Bringing down repair costs is another complication for automakers as they try to attract first-time buyers and reignite sales growth of electric models, which has slowed in recent months. Companies including Tesla and Ford Motor have slashed prices this year in hopes of attracting new customers.


Last year, on average, an EV repair required roughly double the replacement parts compared with a conventional vehicle, according to CCC Intelligent Solutions. The way many electric models’ parts are bolted or welded in the vehicles often means the components cannot be repaired and have to be replaced, Fredman said.


When these vehicles do get into a crash, repairs can be more complex for many reasons. The bodies can be more complicated to disassemble, and the repairs tend to require more steps and precautions, Fredman said.


Vehicles containing lithium-ion batteries also require special storage consideration because of the risk of fire when they are damaged, said Scott Benavidez, chairman of the trade group Automotive Service Association and owner of a collision repair business in New Mexico. Those precautions add both time and cost to the repair process, he added.


The vehicle bodies themselves can result in higher parts and labor costs because EVs tend to use more exotic materials than traditional steel, collision-repair specialists said. Some of these materials, like aluminum, require specialized tools and storage facilities, narrowing the number of shops that can perform the work, they said.


“Those shops will charge more because they’re taking on the risk of working on them and retrofitting their shop,” Benavidez said.


Repairing an electric car tends to take longer, as well, in part because there are still a limited number of shops capable of doing this type of work. It takes 25% longer to get an EV into a body shop than a traditional vehicle, according to data from CCC Intelligent Solutions. Those repairs tend to take roughly 57 days compared with 45 days for non-EVs, the data showed.


In the case of MacFiggen’s Rivian truck, the cost of the repair reflected deeper, structural damage that wasn’t immediately visible, a Rivian spokesperson said. MacFiggen said his insurance covered the five-figure repair bill. The price of repairing body panels on any vehicle can vary widely, but it typically costs between $100 and $3,000, J.D. Power data found.


“Our top priority is building safe vehicles,” the Rivian spokesperson said. “Repairing Rivian vehicles is in line with similar repair costs to other EV manufacturers.”


There are signs that costs could come down as automakers build up a supply of spare parts and more independent repair shops become trained.


EV market leader Tesla has company-owned collision repair centers, as well as a network of privately owned body shops. Those additions helped half the cost of repairs on Teslas over the past decade as more shops became equipped to work on the vehicles, said Xander Walker, a former Tesla employee who worked on refurbishing leased vehicles and trade-ins.


Today, Tesla says the costs of operating a Model 3 sedan are similar to those of a Toyota Corolla over a five-year period, in part because of lower maintenance and repair costs.


Hertz Chief Executive Stephen Scherr also said he expects repair costs to come down as replacement parts become more readily available, and as Hertz purchases more vehicles from traditional carmakers with a broader network of suppliers.


Meanwhile, Scherr said the rental-car company is attempting to lower the price of spare parts and planning to perform more repair work in-house to bring down costs.


Ford Motor also expects that repair costs will eventually come down as technicians are trained and components become more readily available.


“With any technology, the more it scales, the more the cost comes down and customer wait times go down,” said a Ford spokesperson.


Write to Sean McLain at sean.mclain@wsj.com


Toyota Chairman Says People Are Finally Seeing the Reality About EVs

Akio Toyoda’s comments come amid cooling U.S. demand and a price war with China

By River Davis, WSJ


Updated Oct. 25, 2023 11:38 am ET


TOKYO—Toyota Motor Chairman Akio Toyoda, when asked about electric-vehicle challenges including a recent lull in U.S. demand, said the industry was coming to recognize that there isn’t a single answer to reducing carbon emissions.


“People are finally seeing reality,” Toyoda said Wednesday, speaking in his capacity as the head of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.


Toyoda, who stepped down this year as Toyota chief executive after nearly 14 years on the job, has long said the auto industry should hedge its bets by continuing to invest in hybrid gasoline-electric cars and other options beyond just electric vehicles.


As EV sales momentum lags behind in the U.S. and more buyers gravitate to hybrids, he may be enjoying an “I told you so” moment.


“There are many ways to climb the mountain that is achieving carbon neutrality,” Toyoda told a small group of reporters at the Japan Mobility Show, formerly the Tokyo Motor Show, which is opening this week for the first time in four years.


From Tesla to Ford Motor, automakers in recent months have been issuing warnings about a sudden slowdown in consumer demand for EVs, which are generally more expensive than traditional gasoline-powered cars and need to be recharged regularly, posing challenges for some drivers.


Higher interest rates are making them more unaffordable for many buyers, and despite increasing discounts on plug-in models, unsold inventory is starting to stack up at dealerships.


The pullback in buyer interest is a worrisome sign for an industry that is sinking billions of dollars in new factories and battery-making facilities and is facing tougher regulations on tailpipe emissions globally.


In the latest sign that car companies are walking back their plans, General Motors and Honda Motor said Wednesday that they are ditching a partnership forged a year-and-a-half ago aimed at developing a line of lower-priced EVs.


The automakers had expected to produce millions of cars fitted with GM’s Ultium batteries, a proprietary technology that the Detroit automaker has promoted as the mechanical backbone of its future EVs.


GM executives have said developing more affordable EVs is critical to broadening their appeal, and scaling up their battery technology, including through partnerships with other automakers, is one way to help reduce costs.


GM also this week abandoned a self-imposed target to build 400,000 EVs by mid-2024, citing growing uncertainty in the EV market and the need to ensure it can build these new models profitably.


Japanese automakers, most prominently Toyota, have been more vocal than their Western peers about the challenges EVs face in the near term, including high costs, resource crunches and limited charging infrastructure.


In China, the world’s largest car market by vehicle sales, Western and Japanese companies face a host of local challengers and an EV price war.


While the early stages of the EV revolution shake out, Toyota and others have been leaning on hybrid vehicles as a bridging technology and studying the operations of front-runners including Tesla and China’s BYD. Toyota’s current CEO, Koji Sato, has said the carmaker will accelerate development of parts and manufacturing methods optimized for EVs.


At the Tokyo event, Japanese automakers showcased an array of concept EVs, many of which aren’t due in showrooms until the latter half of the decade.


Toyota displayed two EV concept cars due for release after 2026, as well as an electric pickup truck and a version of its Land Cruiser expected to launch within the next few years. Honda Motor’s joint venture with Sony showed off a prototype of its Afeela EV due to be delivered in 2026.


The handful of foreign automakers at the show—including BYD, Mercedes-Benz and BMW—all showed electric models that consumers can buy today, at least in some countries.


With their slower rollouts, Japanese brands await judgment on whether they failed to catch the wave in time or correctly read the general population’s readiness to make the EV shift.


UAW union members have been striking over job security and pay as automakers push forward in developing EV’s, which require fewer workers and cost more in raw materials. So what does that mean for the future of auto workers and the union? Illustration: George Downs/The Wall Street Journal

One favorable sign for Toyota: Its head of sales in North America said recently the market for hybrids is “smoking hot” and the company is trying to make as many of the vehicles as possible. Last month, Toyota had a little more than a week’s worth of Prius hybrids in stock, compared with more than two months’ supply of its electric SUV, the bZ4X.


“I have continued to say what I see as reality,” said Toyoda. Someone needs to convey to the industry what will make car buyers most happy, he said, and “if regulations are created based on ideals, it is regular users who are the ones who suffer.”


EV sales rose 49% globally in the first half of this year, down from the previous year’s 63% growth, according to market-research firm Canalys. Of all EVs, 55% were sold in China, where foreign automakers are increasingly being wedged out by local manufacturers.


In the U.S., some dealers say the first wave of buyers willing to try an EV has passed and remaining buyers are deterred by high sticker prices and the limited range of many EV models.


General Motors said last week it was delaying the opening of an electric pickup-truck factory in Michigan. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Ford Motor was considering cutting a work shift at the plant where it builds its electric F-150 Lightning pickup as demand for the truck falters.


Meanwhile, hybrid sales have taken off in the U.S., growing at a faster clip than the broader U.S. car market. That uptick has also prompted other automakers, like Ford and Nissan Motor, to shift more resources to promoting their hybrids and plug-in hybrid offerings.


Toyoda said the concept vehicles at the Japan show were the product of Japanese automakers taking time to work with battery makers and think about what is possible in EVs. He said the Japanese industry’s strength in the EV era will come from practical car making “over a long period of time and from experiences of failure.”


Write to River Davis at river.davis@wsj.com

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