Do electric cars break down a lot?

Fast read

Electric vehicles (EVs) have fewer parts than traditional combustion engine vehicles, which means they have fewer potential points of failure and may be less likely to break down. However, the frequency of breakdowns for an individual EV still depends on the owner's driving behaviour and how well the EV is maintained.

Insurance premiums for EVs may be higher due to unknown long-term factors for insurance companies to consider, as well as the relative lack of second-hand EV parts available for repair.

EV batteries can last for several years but will eventually need to be replaced, which can be expensive. Ultimately, the likelihood of an EV breaking down depends on various factors, including the quality of the EV and how it is used and maintained.

Do electric vehicles break down as much as petrol cars?

As with all electric appliances, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles can be subject to break down.

One advantage of electric cars over cars with traditional combustion engines is that the EV’s engine is a fully sealed unit without maintenance. In addition, the manufacturer claims that they are designed to last many hundred thousand km.

EVs don’t have traditional car parts such as clutch, radiator, exhaust system, oil sumps, oil filters, and starter motors. Fewer parts mean less wear and tear and less maintenance. As a result, the likelihood of an electric vehicle breaking down due to the failure of any of these parts is non-existent. 

Although electric cars are powered by batteries, which offer a new fail point, generally, their wear is less than hybrid or petrol-powered vehicles. Regenerative braking powers electric cars’ brake pads, making them less susceptible to wear and tear.

So due to the lower number of fail points, one could extrapolate that EVs are less likely to break down than conventional vehicles. However, the frequency at which an individual EV fails still depends on the owner’s driving behaviour and how well it is maintained.

One of the significant advantages of an electric car is the ease of service. For example, Tesla can perform software updates and checks remotely without visiting a service centre. 

Electric vehicle breaks down on side of road
Electric vehicles can be updated through your mobile device which increases the simplicity of servicing when problems arise

Current premiums involved with electric cars

Even though many electric vehicles have higher insurance premiums, it does not necessarily mean they are more likely to break down. It’s just that there are still many unknown long-term factors for insurance companies to consider, so they have added these risks to the insurance premium, which is likely to come down in years. 

The other reason EV premiums are high is that as EVs are relatively new, there are not many wrecking yards offering 2nd hand EV parts. For this reason, EV repairs are expensive; as usual, all parts must be sourced from the manufacturer. However, over time, this cost is expected to improve as well.

Is the profit made in the parts? 

One slightly cynical perspective of any product manufacturer has been that similar to printers, which are cheap to purchase but expensive in the printer cartridge; the real profits are earned in the consumables and the parts. 

One can argue that petrol car manufacturers have been developing a similar method to boost earnings, whereby the initial car is relatively affordable. Still, the spare part costs are artificially inflated. 

As EVs have fewer components overall, the markup on the spare parts would need to be even higher than with petrol cars to ensure a consistent profit flow to EV makers. Only time will tell if this theory holds.

Flat tires, electronic malfunctions, broken air conditioning, software issues, broken systems, wiper motors, lights, broken windows, suspension failures, and leakages are still possibilities with an EV.  

Finally, current EV batteries can last longer than ten years, depending on how they are used. Even after this time, the battery can still hold 55 to 80% of its starting capacity, and depending on the driver’s need regarding distance, it could remain even longer. Nevertheless, eventually, it will need to be changed over at a decent expense. 

A key consideration in purchasing a 2nd hand EV is expected to be the state of the battery and the number of charge cycles it has endured. 

Overview of electric vehicles

In summary, due to the fewer parts, EVs likely have a lower % of break downs than petrol vehicles meaning that EVs are also safer than conventional petrol cars.

I would expect that for every car that stopped and ran out of petrol, we will find an EV vehicle that ran out of charge. But, unfortunately, there are not many ways to prevent a forgetful and determined idiot.

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