There’s no such thing as a free lunch, something as true as it is when a person offers you a “free” cigarette in prison as when EV acolytes promise you lower driving costs because electricity is cheaper than gas.
In the EV example, it certainly is true that, per fill up, charging a Tesla costs less than filling up a car with gas or diesel. That’s generally true, and is a benefit that certainly makes buying an EV make sense for a large number of people that just commute to and from work in their car.
But there is no free lunch; there are costs.
They can’t drive as far as many combustion-powered vehicles, even electric trucks have trouble towing compared to their combustion-powered counterparts, long fill-up times can be dangerous and make road trips a pain, and during something like a hurricane or flood, the charging stations are a major net negative.
Oh, and the cost of replacing one of those batteries, if one happens to wear out, is positively horrendous.
Such was shown not only by a recent story about a young woman in Florida and her new car, but also by a now-viral tweet of a car dealership’s quote for replacing a Chevy Volt battery. At the cost they’re claiming, you might as well just buy a new car:
Bet that Chevy Volt sounded like a good idea at first. pic.twitter.com/q57U0gZowU
— Rob O'Donnell (@odonnell_r) August 25, 2022
There is a caveat to the quote, which is that the model that needs a replacement battery is old and parts for it are no longer made, making finding a replacement battery highly expensive. NBC2, reporting on that after talking to the dealership, said:
The car was a Hybrid Chevy Volt and needed a full battery replacement at Roger Dean Chevrolet in Cape Coral.
On Monday, the dealership confirmed that it was true, but the quote to replace the battery was so high was because the model was 12 years old and out-of-warranty.
The dealership declined an interview, but on Facebook explained that the Volt is a discontinued hybrid vehicle. That made finding replacement parts difficult and expensive.
NBC 2 also quoted a man named Ian who rents a Chevy Bolt (not Volt), as saying that the added cost of dealing with an EV replacement part could be particularly painful. In his words:
“I feel like electric vehicle space is innovating a lot. It’s moving on past the initial if something goes wrong with your battery, you hit a rock or something and you need to spend the entire amount you spent on your car to fix it.
“I’m like ‘well that’s gotta suck for that person’. Now that might not be as much of an issue for people with newer cars and stuff like that.”
There are benefits to EVs, particularly some of the newer Tesla models that, even if expensive to buy, are cheap to recharge and can almost drive themselves. Those benefits shouldn’t be forgotten.
But neither should the costs of EVs, whether being unable to painlessly take a road trip or replace a dead battery, be forgotten. Those are just as real, and potentially outweigh the benefits for many American consumers.