Electric vehicles are risking becoming uninsurable as analysts and underwriters struggle to price battery repairs, according to a car insurance researcher.
A lack of “insight and understanding” about the cost of fixing damaged EV batteries is spiking premiums, resulting in insurance companies cancelling or declining coverage, Jonathan Hewett, chief executive of Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research center, told the Telegraph.
“The threat of thermal runaway means that a catastrophic fire can take place if the cells of the battery have been damaged in a collision,” Hewitt said. “What we’re struggling to understand at the moment is how we approach that diagnostic technique. It’s like a doctor trying to understand what’s wrong with you without any notes or an X-ray.”
EV batteries have caused consumer headaches over the past few years as drivers unexpectedly faced high replacement costs. In some cases, the cost of the battery exceeded the value of the vehicle.
Last year, the family of 17-year-old Avery Siwinski grappled with a five-figure battery replacement cost for their 2014 Ford Focus Electric. Her parents spent $11,000 on the used vehicle that had 60,000 miles.
“It was fine at first,” Avery Siwinski said. “I loved it so much. It was small and quiet and cute. And all the sudden it stopped working.”
Siwinski has been driving the car for just six months before the battery died. A local Ford dealership told the family they could replace the battery at a cost of $14,000 — more than the cost of the vehicle.
After weeks of researching, the family found that the specific battery needed for the car wasn’t even available.
Also last year, a Tesla owner in Canada was locked out of his car after the battery died. Tesla told him a replacement battery would cost $26,000.
Just last week, a Tesla owner was hit with a $21,000 bill for a new battery.
“The battery is an extremely expensive component of an electric vehicle and until we find efficient ways of dealing with it we have the challenge of high premiums for electric vehicles, which nobody wants,” Hewett says.
Currently, some customers are being quoted more than $525 per month for insurance for their electric vehicles, the Telegraph reported.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to an “all-electric Ford Fusion” instead of a Ford Focus Electric.