electric vehicle battery

Electric Vehicle Nightmare: Girl Learns Car Needs New Battery, Then Family Realizes It Isn’t Made Anymore

Electric vehicles seem to be the need of the hour. But as a teenager from Florida realized recently, they come with their own set of problems, particularly the battery. The 17-year-old student from St. Petersburg, Avery Siwinski, was quite delighted after purchasing an EV. She thought that not only was it more eco-friendly, but she was also saving herself some money on fuel.[1]

As it turns out she then came upon a major crisis, that is simply unique to the owners of EVs. Speaking to WTSP-TV, Siwinski mentioned that she was quite excited and elated with the vehicle that her parents had bought her. It was a used 2014 Ford Focus Electric from AutoNation Ford in Pinellas County. The car looked quite new, and it only had a modest 60,000 (96,500 km) miles on it. Siwinski stated, “It was fine at first. I loved it so much. It was small and quiet and cute.”

An all-electric Ford Focus on display at the North American International Auto Show media preview January 16, 2014
An all-electric Ford Focus on display at the North American International Auto Show in January 2014. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Battery Pack Replacement In Electric Vehicles- A Pricey And Tedious Affair

But soon, the electric vehicle stopped working. According to Siwinski, the dashboard of the vehicle started lighting up like a tree on Christmas. After purchasing the vehicle just six months back, Siwinski was naturally quite shocked that it needed service so soon. But her shock soon turned into outrage when her family was given some belligerent news by AutoNation. Apparently, after they had checked the vehicle out, they reported that the battery pack for the EV had exhausted itself. The replacement would cost them $14,000. The family had initially paid a sum of $11,000 to purchase the EV. But as it turns out, they would have to pay more than the cost of the vehicle to get the battery replaced. 

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Avery Siwinski
Image Credits: WTSP

Interestingly, this wasn’t the worst part of the event. The dealer of the electric vehicle mentioned that they didn’t have a battery for this vehicle. So, one can assume correctly that the car has been sitting at the dealership, with the family waiting for a replacement battery pack. As they say, one tragedy begets another. Siwinski’s father passed away from cancer during the months they were waiting. While her grandfather did try to step up and secure a battery, all was for naught.

Speaking to WTSP, Ray Siwinski stated, “They could cost twice as much and we still couldn’t get it. It turns out that this is a pretty common problem with this particular car.” AutoNation stated that they would purchase the car from the family- but at a sum of $500. This implies that the family would be losing out on more than $10,000 on the deal in under six months.[2] 

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Unknown Overheads

Ray Siwinski had quite a valid complaint. He stated that every customer should be made aware that the dealers of electric vehicles would not be able to really service the vehicle. Along with a lack of qualified technicians, there was also a huge lack of available parts. “If you’re buying a new one, you have to realize there is no secondhand market out there because manufacturers aren’t supporting the cars.” WTSP mention, “The Siwinskis’ message to you: Do your research before buying electric. They warn it may cost you far more than you realize.”

As it turns out, most dealerships had been warning their new electric vehicle owners that solving a problem might take some time. Incidentally, the supply chain for such vehicles hasn’t been set in place completely. Most of the parts haven’t been stocked, and most techs aren’t trained enough to deal with this. In many cases, battery packs for such vehicles have not even been manufactured in a large quantity. The reality, harsh, brutal reality regarding EVs seems to be dawning on a large section of society. 

Read: Grandmother Creates Her Own Electric Car For $24,000

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Should You Buy an Electric Vehicle? The Pros And Cons

This begs the question- is purchasing an electric vehicle worth it?

In certain situations, an electric vehicle could be the best purchase you ever make. It requires absolutely no gas to run, and it is also pretty low-maintenance. This implies that one wouldn’t have to constantly change their oil, or even go through any form of expensive engine work. The brakes on an EV are also quite sturdy- so one wouldn’t have to change that either. One could also get a host of interesting tax credits and incentives while purchasing one such vehicle.[2] 

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For example, the Mini Cooper SE has a federal tax credit of $7,500 attached to it. With the on-road price of the vehicle being $30,000, one can use these credits to get it under $20,000. One could also lease an electric car- with leasing companies offering lucrative deals. In certain situations, the companies take the tax credit and then pass on the savings to the driver. And finally, one of the biggest advantages of purchasing an EV would be the moral knowledge that you are doing the best you can to save the planet. EVs aren’t perfect, as battery products produce pollution, but over all, it’s still a step in the right direction.

There are other problems with electric vehicles as well. The biggest problem is the battery in itself. Range anxiety is seen as a big problem to consumers. With lithium-ion technology improving all the time and with potential technology like solid-state batteries, this may be a thing of the past. But currently, this is perceived as huge drawback. Another drawback is the price of a replacement battery. Long story short, they’re expensive.

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Expensive Batteries

A battery pack for an electric vehicle uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that one uses in their cellphones or laptops. The difference is- they are much bigger in size. Also, the most expensive component of the battery cell would be the cathode- one of the electrodes that stores and releases electricity. The material composition of the cathode usually uses expensive metals like nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium. [3]

Currently, the average cost of a battery pack replacement for an average Electric vehicle would be around $6,300 but can cost as much as $20,000. Nevertheless, the price of a battery pack has been steadily decreasing over the last 10 years, and one hopes that it would go down further. Despite this progress, the industry average price of $137 for a kilowatt of power for an hour is still above the threshold price of $100 at an EV’s cost. 

Another common problem that any electric vehicle owner would come across is charging station installation. If one were to live in a busy, shopping district of the city, then this would be needless. But most of us prefer to charge our cars in our homes- where the installations become necessary- and expensive.

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Keep Reading: The Biggest Reason People aren’t Buying Electric Cars

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Sources

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  1. St. Pete family: Electric car battery replacement costs more than car.” WTSP. Malique Rankin, Angela Clooney. July 14, 2021.
  2. Electric Vehicle Nightmare: Girl Learns Car Needs New Battery, Then Family Realizes It Isn’t Made Anymore.” IJR. warner Todd Huston. July 19, 2021.
  3. “Electric Cars: Benefits and Drawbacks” Auto Trader. April 30, 201
  4. Electric Vehicle Nightmare: Girl Learns Car Needs New Battery, Then Family Realizes It Isn’t Made Anymore.” Bloomberg. David Stringer and Kyunghee Park. September 16, 2021.
Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected]
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