The annual Kinsey Report arrived in our mailbox this week and as usual it provides some fascinating insight into the South African automotive industry. Although what we found particularly interesting was a section highlighting the cost of replacing the battery in your hybrid or electric vehicle. Some seem reasonable but some, as in the case of the BMW i3, seem prohibitively expensive.
1: BMW i3 eDRIVE: R606 800
Cost of replacement battery: R339 616 (price pertains to Lifecycle Improvement model launching locally in Q2 2018)
2: BMW i8 eDRIVE: R2 015 300
Cost of replacement battery: R106 146
3: Nissan Leaf: R500 500
Cost of replacement battery: R130 226
4: Mercedes-Benz C350e: R804 900
Cost of replacement battery: R124 000
5: Toyota Prius: R457 600
Cost of replacement battery: R28 300
6: Toyota Yaris Pulse: R307 200
Cost of replacement battery: R22 500
7: Infiniti Q50 S: R709 100
Cost of replacement battery: R114 197
8: Lexus NX300h: R746 700
Cost of replacement battery: R35 603
So there you have it – replacing the battery on your ‘green’ car can be a pricey business. It also begs the question, is it worth it? I mean you can now buy a secondhand 2015 Nissan Leaf for around R250 000. Now in theory the battery pack inside that vehicle should be good for anything between five to 10 years of service life. But say it bombs out after six years, the cells go faulty and, worst case scenario, you have to replace it.
Factoring in the ongoing market depreciation over this time frame it will make zero financial sense to cough-up the money for a new battery pack. So you’re left with a car you can’t afford to fix and one that you surely won’t be able to sell. So your EV is basically redundant: an electrical appliance that – like your shaver with the built-in battery – is only good for turfing into your nearest recycling bin.
So looking at this scenario with objective eyes, it better going for a hybrid? Or is it instead better to stick with a car powered by small-capacity turbocharged petrol engine that will retain its value for a longer period of time and ultimately return a far superior service life? Going into this uncertain new era of electric cars I’m sure it’s a question that will be troubling many consumers for a good few years to come. – Thomas Falkiner (All data via the 2017 Kinsey Report)