An electric vehicle at a charging station.

Electric Vehicles: New Technology, New Problems

By Brian T. Murray, Esq.

Determined to cut your carbon footprint in 2020?  Next year, virtually every major automaker will be offering new electric and hybrid vehicles (“EV”).  However, buyer beware. If you are thinking about purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle in the new year, there are some issues you must consider before making your purchase.  Even beyond the sticker shock associated with this new technology and range anxiety that comes with EVs, consumers may experience a wide variety of problems that were not necessarily issues with traditional, gas-powered vehicles.

In 2019, the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling EV in America. In fact, last year Tesla sold over 10 times the number of EVs in the United States than the second best-selling manufacturer of EVs, General Motors.  However, EVs only account for 1% of the US automotive market. Therein lies the problem, because EVs account for such a small fraction of the vehicles on the road many technicians are not trained to repair EVs and your local mechanic may not be equipped to properly diagnose and repair your EV.  This means you could be forced to go directly to the dealership for even minor repairs and maintenance. This equates directly to higher repair costs. 

Additionally, with new technology comes new problems.  It is no secret that EVs have been subject to a host of electrical issues that can affect the car’s drivability and safety on the road. For instance, one of the most common complaints about EVs is unpredictable electrical consumption. EV owners often find themselves prematurely out of charge, leaving them potentially stranded.   

One of the biggest safety concerns with electric vehicles comes from the big batteries. Large batteries generate substantial heat, which can cause fires. EVs require regular coolant service to assure batteries don’t get hot enough to catch fire. Recently, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration commenced an investigation relating to battery fires in EV’s.  

EV owners must make sure to properly maintain their batteries. EV batteries can suffer from sitting in overly hot or cold temps for too long, getting completely drained, or charged too often. EV owners should consult their owner’s manuals to make sure their batteries are properly maintained.

Lastly, electric vehicles use regenerative braking to charge the batteries.  Brake discs and pads are pressed together with hydraulic fluid that is hygroscopic, meaning it likes to absorb water from the air and will corrode your brake system unless you flush it regularly.  The result is that EVs may need brake service more often. 

Still interested in purchasing an EV in 2020?  If so, Ford Motor Company is developing an electric version of the F-150 pickup and a crossover SUV based on the Mustang.  General Motors is also planning to release an electric truck, a crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt, and an electric Cadillac. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are also planning new EV lineups. 

If you do decide to purchase an EV and you experience persistent problems under the warranty period, rest assured that many states, including California, have strong consumer protection laws to safeguard your rights.  In California, your vehicle can qualify under the Lemon Law whether it runs or gas or electricity. If your EV hasn’t lived up to expectations or has spent too much time in the shop, we invite you to call us for a free consultation with a lemon law expert: (833) LEMON-FIRM.