The Actual Cost of Electric Cars

I’m an electrical engineer. My day job involves designing the electronics that will drive a set of motors in a robot arm to be used on a NASA satellite. While the motors are not as powerful as those used in cars, the technology is similar. The paperwork below goes a long way in explaining why one of my VWs burns gasoline and the other is a diesel.When I first saw this quote, I thought it was fake. However, a bit of research showed that a low end estimate for replacing a Volt battery is around 9,000 bucks. A Los Angeles Chevy dealer was cited online as estimating just short of 20,000 dollars for a Volt battery replacement, and costs as high as 32,000 are reported.

I ran the VIN shown on the estimate at the AC Delco parts website. The car is a 2012 Volt hybrid which means that the battery could now be out of warranty. Because the car is hybrid, there is still a 1.4 L gasoline engine to maintain in addition to the battery and electric motor.

It would probably be more expensive to replace the diesel engine in my New Beetle that that gasoline engine in my GTI, but it would still be less that the cost of a low end estimate for a Volt battery job. And I’d expect a diesel engine to go a lot further than 70,000 miles before needing to be rebuilt or replaced. My other diesel cars all went past 300,000 miles before requiring serious engine work.


UPDATE—The estimated cost of this battery replacement is almost the same as the original 2012 sticker price for a Volt.

Coal-fired Transportation

I can remember riding on a train pulled by a coal-fired steam locomotive when I was a kid. I didn’t think I would ride on a coal-fired vehicle in my old age, but WaPo has an article up about electric cars and the coal that runs them.

UPDATE—The real-world effects on the power grid caused by electric vehicles makes my choice of a VW diesel look even more socially/environmentally responsible.