The EV Amortization Problem

32
2002
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You can amortize the cost of almost any car  . . if it’s not an electric car.

Gas (and even more so, diesel) engined cars will usually run reliable and without major expense for at least 15 years  – even if not treated particularly well.

And that’s more than long enough to pay off such a car before it reaches the Money Pit stage of its existence.

Most new cars are paid off after about 6-7 years, depending on the loan and interest rate. And once you’ve paid off the car you’ve still got a car with lots of life left in it. Leaving aside the cost of fuel, routine maintenance and the occasional repair you have free transportation.

Probably for at least as many years to come as it took to pay for the car itself.

Electric cars don’t amortize as favorably, for two reasons.

First, their initial cost is much higher. The least expensive ones like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt cost between $30,000 and $35,000 – which is considered the “entry luxury” price point for new cars and at least $10,000-$15,000 higher than the cost of current gas-engined economy cars, which sticker around $15,000-$20,000 or so.

This means it takes longer to pay them off (unless you paid cash) and their cost-to-depreciation ratio is higher. All electric cars on the market are essentially luxury cars – because of their higher up-front costs. And luxury cars almost always depreciate faster and harder than other cars.

Second, they don’t last as long.

Electric car touters make much of the fact – and it is a fact – that an electric motor is simpler than a gas (or diesel) engine, which has many moving parts vs. very few in the electric motor. An electric motor will usually last a very long time and usually requires little or no maintenance.

Absolutely.

But EV people regularly fail to tout the fact – and it is also a fact – that the electric batteries which are as essential to the functional viability of an electric car as the electric motor are very complex, have a chemically limited lifespan and are very expensive to replace.

Rechargeable batteries can only be recharged so many times before they begin to lose their ability to hold a charge. Their lifespan therefore depends on charge/discharge cycling; the more often it’s done, the shorter the useful life of the battery.

Also, the shorter the range of the electric car – which creates a secondary problem because even the longest-legged EVs start out with comparatively short best-case ranges vs. non-electric cars. When the RV’s battery pack’s capacity is no longer best-case, the already shorter-than-most EV range will become even shorter.

Which means having to recharge more often… which starts a negative feedback loop of more discharge/charge cycling and shorter and even shorter battery life.

A point will be reached when the electric car becomes functionally useless because its aging battery can’t hold much charge anymore and because of this, the car can only be driven briefly before it needs to be plugged in again.

If it can be driven at all.

It will be like a gas-engined car that has to be limped from gas station to gas station only instead of waiting five minutes to refuel, you’ll be waiting for the minimum of 30-45 minutes or longer it takes to partially recharge the geezing battery pack.

Assuming, of course, there isn’t another EV ahead of you at the “pump” – in which case, you’ll have to wait 30-45 for him to recharge before you plug in.

This will happen well before 15 years, too.

After six or seven years of daily/regular use – of heavy discharge/recharge cycling –  a decline in battery efficiency will almost certainly become noticeable. Even Teslians are noticing it. But outside the “community,” it’s not being talked about much. The car press has yet to cover it at all.

Consumer Advocates are curiously silent.

This is dereliction of duty at the least – assuming these “advocates” really do care about the “consumers” they claim to represent. It seems doubtful, given the facts – which are not in hiding. They’re just not being talked about.

The public is being grossly misled – by omission – about the real-world service life (and real-world lifetime costs) of electric cars. Part of this is also because almost all of the electric cars currently in use are the second cars of affluent virtue signalers, who do not use them as everyday transportation.

These cars are like my garage queen antique muscle car – which goes out when it’s nice and only when it’s convenient and which I don’t depend on for reliable transportation, day in, day out.

Wait until people find out about the inherently limited service life of an electric car’s battery pack – and about the fact that its life is a function of how much it’s used.

And wait until they find out what it costs to replace an electric car’s battery pack. Which might as well mean replacing the electric car itself – because the typical EV battery costs in excess of $10,000 to replace. The higher-performance batteries in EVs like the Tesla Model S can cost twice that (see here).

It’s an economic and functional time bomb built into every electric car.

It’s also real-deal “planned obsolescence” – the thing Consumer Advocates used to accuse carmakers of engineering into pre-electric vehicles. But even a rusty Yugo can be kept on the road for a lot longer than a six-figure Tesla – and the Yugo itself could be rebuilt for the cost of replacing an electric car’s battery pack.

. . .

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Only home OWNERS or renters will be able to drive these,nobody else will have a way to charge them.Notwithstanding we dont have the excess current to power them.Sooooo……no power source,nowhere to utilize that power source……How could this possibly be anything but a disaster on our ability to travel outside of Uncles mass transit,for us cockroaches doncha know.

  2. Does anyone get the feeling that if the elites decreed that everyone must have their thumbs amputated, Americans would agree that the law makes sense and must be obeyed?

    • Hi Libertarian,

      Americans have accepted probable cause-free/general searches of themselves and their property on the road and at airports and sports venues and train stations. I see no logical reason why they should not also accept random searches of their homes as well. To keep them safe. To fight “terror” and also make sure no kids or women or old people or animals are being abused.

      One can’t be too safe.

      • Eric, more lying in the news today.
        Twitter announced their profits were up, but they gave no numbers, and that, despite having lost over 9 million accounts.

        MS said their profits were up even though there’s been a slow down of growth in “The Cloud “.

        Lying bastards whistling past the graveyard.

        Back when Shrubco was doing its worst, many people I knew were gung-ho to pick up every turd dropped by maybe The Most Duplicitous administration to exist.

        After many years I told them they were so deluded if the Shrub issued an order for them to be present curbside the next day with their first born who’d be picked up and taken away, they’d all be out there in dutiful obedience.

        Now I thought I’d be roundly attacked…..since I was roundly attacked for simply disagreeing with Shrubco policy. The hue and cry of me being a commie Democrat never came. I was shocked I tells you.

        Years later one the RR accolites began to change his tune and even others who were dyed in the wool Republicans voted Libertarian.

        The RR lover it was obvious had gotten onto a libertarian FB thread and his views began switching like a cow’s tail in a fly outbreak. He now preaches a good, solid libertarian view. Probably FB noticed the change and is trying to ban that group. Since he doesn’t seem to ride on the coattails of AJones or any of the other banned accounts, I’m guessing FB is lying in wait for a slip-up among members of HIS FRIENDS.

  3. It is interesting reading the comments on that tesla site. The general idea is that after 5-8 years why put any money at all into the car as it will be worth nothing. Everyone appears to view these electric cars as temporary throw away cars. How the F is that environmentally friendly. Everyone is just insane anymore.

    • Because those pushing electric cars don’t give an F about the environment and those buying them buy them for social reasons. That’s why the CO2 from China doesn’t matter. It’s why the actual real pollution from China doesn’t matter to them. Why the mining to make the batteries don’t matter to them. It’s all about power and advancing towards a fully managed society.

      All these energy standards on everything and inflation keep undermining durability. A real desire to conserve resources would be concentrated on durability standards and a monetary system that doesn’t undermine making durable products. An energy efficient device that doesn’t last is pointless, but that’s what we get.

    • I’m surprised that the dopes are that realistic about the actual expected lifespan of those cars. Usually, such snowflakes live in such a fantasy world of make-believe, that they couldn’t be so realistic.

      And imagine the cost! Throwing away a $50K-$100K+ car every 5-8 years….. They’ll gladly support some politician who will take our money and give it to Laqueesha and her 6 illegitimate mulattos; and who will give THEM a subsidy to buy their already subsidized cars….but they’d have no problemo blowing $20K a year on a virtue-signaling toy, which would not only NOT be good for the “ENVIIIIIIIIRONMENT”, for reasons already mentioned, but would also eliminate any possibility of a used-car market, thus requiring that even a greater number of new cars be manufuctured, thus consuming more resources, and causing more pollution to be spewed; and more robots to work over-time….

  4. There’s an easy Leninst explanation for why EVs’ faults are covered up: it’s for our own good and progress. Two steps forward, one step back. See, we’re still going forward even after all those negative adjustments we had to make.

    • Hi Ross,

      Exactly. I have become absolutely convinced that the otherwise inexplicable (because not market driven) bum’s rush toward The Electric Car Future is occurring for purposes of restricting mobility. This isn’t an assertion. It’s objective fact. The EV cannot go as far as a gas or diesel-powered car and its radius of action is restricted by access to recharging facilities. Especially so-called “fast” chargers. If you cannot plug in to one of those, a trip that used to take six hours now takes two days. Because you have to stop and wait 8-12 hours to recharge. And even if you do find a “fast” charger, you still have to wait 30-45 minutes or longer to recover a partial charge.

      Your mobility has been restricted.

      EVs are also expensive and more disposable than gas-engined cars, which serves the purpose of creating more debt, always desirable as far as the banks and corporations are concerned.

  5. The original accusation “planned obsolescence” on the big three wasn’t even a functional one but rather one of style, features, and advertising. That is your new car would be inferior to the new cars just a few years later. That the styles would change, there would be new features, more power, whathaveyou. If you could resist keeping up with the neighbors there was no reason you couldn’t keep your car for a very long time.

    Many did given how many american “planned obsolescence” cars survived. Even when used up many people kept them for them to be resurrected decades later.

    As Eric wrote, the electric car actually has a defined time bomb in it. The chemical battery. Something no other car has. I’ve known cars with seemingly engineered mtbf such that they begin needing monthly sub $100 parts. But even that is just an annoyance compared to the electric car.

    $100 a month in parts for a paid off car isn’t fatal and it’s usually half that or less. It’s more annoying to do the work or pay for the labor. Still not a new car hit. Just a fed up with this, time for a new car. But then that car can still go on to another owner that can drive it into the ground until something major fails. The electric car? It’s just dead until thousands of dollars are inserted.

    So what are the “poor” going to drive? The cost of entry for an electric car “beater” is a new battery. For gasoline car it’s whatever repair was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the previous owner. Usually something cheap if done one’s self and goes to the salvage yard. The car will cost maybe $1000 and then $50 a month in repairs until something big breaks. That could be years down the road. We all know people who just buy cheap beaters and keep them going until they are truly dead and then get another. How does that happen with electrics? It doesn’t. Well unless people start rebuilding battery packs themselves. Which could be done for someone who knows what they are doing. Find the few cells that are truly dead in the pack and just replace those. Now watch a video on how to take a part a Tesla Motors battery pack before one can even think of replacing individual cells.

    Now for some chemistries the car could be engineered for easy cell replacement, but probably not viable for Li-ion because of the fire risk. Of course easy cell replacement means more upfront expense.

  6. Eric: I remember back in the day, of the same argument being said about the battery pack in the Prius. I think it was said about $5k replacement cost for that. Do you have any knowledge about the longevity of those battery packs? You, or any Prius owners here on this forum?

    Overall, your argument against the thriftiness of EV’s is absolutely sound. They work great as a short range commuter car, especially now since the pricing of electricity to the home doesn’t include zillions of EV’s sucking off the grid!

    • Hi Tom,

      Hybrids are a very different case because they are only part-time electric cars. The car is not 100 percent dependent on the battery for everything. The gas engine does at least half or more of the work of propelling the car; it also maintains the battery charge as the vehicle is used – very important as regards battery life.

      EVs, on the other hand, are entirely dependent on the battery for everything. The battery is thus worked much harder. It is discharged more deeply and recharged more often. This will necessarily reduce its life, assuming regular use.

      The EV’s battery pack is also much larger – and costs much more.

      Finally, a hybrid is still operable even when its battery pack loses efficiency because it has that gas-burning engine. An EV is kaput when its battery croaks.

  7. Will people be able to get car loans for the purchase of a new battery? If not, how will the average American come up with between $10,000 and $45,000 for a new battery to keep their car running? I guess it won’t be an issue for the Tesla owners who can shell out $100,000 for a car but what about for the rest of the people who bought into the EV propaganda and bought these $30,000 cars with a $7500 federal subsidy? What do they do when their car only drives a few miles and doesn’t heat or cool the interior? Most Americans don’t have $500 extra cash on hand let alone $20K.

    • Hi Krista,

      The whole EV sham depends on people not looking to closely; the media has abetted this – and now the train is barreling down the track at high speed toward a granite wall.

      But, people in the main have been acclimatized to revolving/perpetual debt and that is another aspect to this EV (and automated car) business. Just assume a regular monthly payment – forever.

      Big corporations don’t like paid-off anything. Government doesn’t like it, either – because the less you owe, the more free you are.

    • I doubt paying for replacement batteries will be a problem for most people, since by the time EVs become ubiquitous, the majority will have been priced out of vehicle ownership. They will rely instead on car subscriptions, ride sharing, and other “mobility” options that the elites allow them to use. Owning a car and the freedom that entails will be something the masses can only dream about, or for those old enough, remember wistfully as they listen to Red Barchetta, which will probably be as illegal as driving an internal combustion vehicle..

      • I see civil war in the offing. What we’re going through right now is the beginning stages.

        Texas DPS is constantly trying to hire new recruits and are failing to find them with the exception of Hispanic’s who fall for the uninformed view of the world

        It verily mirrors the Pope worshippers. I say this with heavy heart. It’s not what I’d choose nor want for this country.

        Just had the ubiquitous bs news come up on my phone. Sure enough it was the socialist drivel Google has been trying to cram down Android users craws.

        The article I noticed was why to not use Chrome or Firefox. Hmm, Chrome, a Google product or Firefox, a user based entity.
        So I tap on it and find it’s a Google app.

        I start reading user reviews and find out nothing about the supposed article but instead find literally thousands of reviews which are 90% people saying what a socialist, leftist bullshit news site it obviously is with the constant replies from Google that you can include content from “Fox” if you like.

        Never figured out why not to use Firefox. It was lost in the din.

        TPTB are turning up the heat to bring about martial law.

        Instead of draining the swamp it appears Trump is part of the problem, not anywhere near the solution.

        The American people of flyover country are being attacked by both political extremes, neocons and socialists. The backlash of reviews of this app only enforces my views that the deep state is fomenting a worldwide war on freedom.

        I keep backing down my rabbit hole and covering my trail with ammo, a sad commentary from someone nearly 7 decades old who’s seen this shit coming since a teenager.

        That assistant coach who I couldn’t tolerate may have saved my and my classmates lives when he warned us to figure out why we were about to be cannon fodder in Vietnam.

        There was a time when I thought I’d made a difference, when Tricky Dick said he was going to cave and pull the troops out of Vietnam…..and then obfuscated and didn’t.

        I’ve backed down that hole over 50 years and not only don’t feel the cross hairs of government keeping a steely eyed watch on my every move but quite the opposite.

        The more bunkers I build the more I feel I’m targeted.

        Will it come to a shooting war for the right to freely travel via outlawing non-government approved conveyances? I suspect we’re rapidly approaching that point.

        This has been the overall program all along, to rid the entire planet of freedom. What else can a person my age see having grown up in a society that didn’t really seem to give a shit what you did if you weren’t a thief or a murderer?

        But maybe it was never so…..as far as federal government was concerned. We were merely test subjects for such as spraying us with various diseases and toxins from the time we were kids and marveled at those fighter jets coming over with their big, white trails behind.

        What I really don’t understand are the people who were told by retired military veterans back in the 70s that we really were targeted. Damn people, how dense can you be?

        • Morning, Eight!

          I see something evil coming, too. Not a civil war – I don’t think – because there aren’t clear geographic blocs that could become sides vying for control of the whole enchilada.

          I do see an ideological war – but it’s not freedom on one side and not-freedom on the other side. It’s Red vs. Brown. Authoritarian leftism vs. Authoritarian rightism. As in Germany, once upon a time.

          There is also a better parallel with Russia, pre-Soviet Union. A radical cabal is attempting to assert cultural as well as social and political control over the whole. The whole, though, is Romanov-like in that it has no real ideology of its own. It is – to use Lenin’s term – bourgeoisie. Vaguely traditional/conservative but no real principle at core. Easy meat for disciplined – principled – leftists. See the “battle” – such as it was – over Obamacare. The bourgeoisie GOP couldn’t or wouldn’t defend the principle that health care is not a right and that forcing people to buy “coverage” or fund the “coverage” of others is immoral (assuming you believe theft and violence to obtain material benefits are immoral). Instead, they mush-mouthed about how their “plan” would work better.

          Guaranteed fail. Also, inevitable – because the GOP does not oppose in principle one iota of the socialist/leftist agenda. It just wants a bit less, for the moment. Example: It does not oppose property taxes or income taxes; it just thinks these should be “lower” than leftists and liberals do. Another example: The GOP doesn’t believe in free association – your right to not do business with anyone, for any reason – and agrees with the liberal left that people who exercise that former freedom ought to be criminally prosecuted. More? The GOP isn’t opposed to “controlling” guns (that is, to controlling people – not on account of any harm they have caused but just to control them) . . . it just supports slightly less “control.” Etc.

          I see the Russian redux as being more likely than a battle between reds and browns.

          And I think the only hope for a peaceful denouement is a break-up of the country, as happened to Soviet Russia in the ’90s.

          • Guys, this is one of the reasonsc I intend to vamoose! (Although the main reason is just to be able to live free, and to not have to see the constant machinations of the state and statists around me).

            Yep….something is definitely coming- and it’s impossible to say exactly what, because the timing of multiple major events could affect exactly what that something is- i.e. if the economy collapses before that something occurs vs. during or after….and many other such factors. They may even initiate a war if they feel they are losing control- as that always garners huge amounts of loyal support for the overlords- patriotism and all that. Just let an “enemy” attack one’s country, and suddenly everyone is automatically on the defensive. We see them beating the war drums right now…. Look at what 9/11 did for the overlords…it was like a magic pill!

            But I think we can agree that whatever that something is, the outcome is NOT going to be good- nor more friendly to liberty- but rather, just the opposite.

            One can only have liberty when those around them also understand and care about liberty; but we live in a world where the majority have been carefully groomed over generations to be collectivists, and at a time when most people don’t even make a pretense of trying to restrain the baser tendencies of human nature- as we can see by the degradation of culture, religion and civility around us.

            The response from the entrenched state as it sees signs of itself losing power, will be greater tyranny. That is our immediate future here. After that, when people have had enough, it will be a fight for side or another- one group vs. another. A power struggle; not an overthrow of tyranny- but rather the rule of a different master. And even the overthrow of one master for another will not be fast nor easy, nor even necessarily successful, as the current masters have a lot of supporters who gladly voted to put them in power, and who happily tolerate their tyrannies and even cheer for more.

            • Nun, eric, we see what can and probably will happen.

              Every one here is welcome to come work for freedom. But we’re not speaking of free rides.

              The Texas Nationalists Movement is a force to be recommended with.

              I’m not big to jump on any governmental entity but we’ll deal with TNM once we’re rid of the feds.

              What was the quote about getting government small enough to drown in the bathtub?

  8. If the majority of drivers were in EVs, I can see a lot drivers walking or taking public transportation due to expense or shortage of replacement batteries. Uncle would love nothing better than this outcome. Question…… Will armed Gov’t workers ever be issued EVs or keep the advantage of IC engines??

  9. Methinks the soon to be proliferation of used (unwanted) EV lots will be sparking [pun intended!] a revival of the old 1970’s phrase which was so ubiquitous among toy manufacturers:

    “Batteries not included”.

  10. Eric, do you know if EV batteries are recycled? If they are it’s never been mentioned in any article or ad I’ve read.

    Speaking to a friend yesterday who recently became the manager of a recycling facility for fiberglass, he told me the wind generation companies must be able to recycle every replaced part to maintain their “green” status.

    I knew the generator was recycled since a coworker hauled a burnt one to a facility that salvages them.

    Turns out everything including damaged towers are recycled. I’d think they’d be crowing about battery recycling…..if it were done.

    • The batteries can be recycled but if you ever watched a video on youtube where a tesla motors battery pack is disassembled it becomes clear that the labor involved would make it economically non-viable.

      • Brent, do they show how the electric producing materials can be separated from the material used as the housing. It looks, as far as I can tell, fire would be the tough thing to avoid.

        When a liIon battery is punctured, its burn rate is next to explosive.

        • It’s just pack disassembly to remove the modules of cells. For recycling those modules would then need to be disassembled so that the individual cells could be recycled.

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