Actually, that is one of the worries that is being whispered around the Electric Auto Association. Electric Auto Association members who have converted their own electric vehicles know for a fact that the motors last much longer than internal combustion engines, lead-acid batteries need to be replaced about once every five years, and as for the car body… it just depends. I know someone who has taken an electric motor through three different car bodies. The worry with production models is that the auto manufacturers may have planned obsolescence into their vehicles to break down in five years or less. That’s also why Electric Auto Association members think it took so long for auto manufacturers to release their vehicles: they were busy thinking of ways to make them break down after five years so that they could sell people another one.
I took an upper division transportation economics class at UC Davis (ECN 145) shortly before commercially produced electric vehicles hit the market, and the professor agreed with me when I asked him if that could be the case. He said that auto manufacturers are not only competing with each other, they are competing with their past selves as well. That’s why they stop producing replacement parts for their older models, change the look of the car, make them with new parts that are not the same size as the older parts, and other ridiculous things like that. It’s a money game. So, although electric vehicles have the ability to last a long time, I wouldn’t trust the big auto manufacturers.
On the road, the Chevy Volt can run about 35 miles on a fully charged battery before switching to gas for about another 375. The warranty for the car currently is 8 years and 100,000 miles. One of the issues with the car is if the battery fails. Obviously, how you take care of your car and what environmenta conditions it is exposed to will determine how long it will last. GM expects the car battery to last about 10 years. Batteries can be replaced but it is expected to be very costly. GM is currently working on ways to reuse Volt batteries from their cars at end of life, as well as ways to extend the life and capacity of their car batteries. GM claims they are on the verge of new technology that could double the battery capacity and save large sums of money.
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