An Ontario man who bought a used electric car was shocked when he was told that replacing the battery would cost him more than $50,000. The incident has raised questions about the sustainability and affordability of electric vehicles in Canada.
David Jenkins bought a 2014 Chevrolet Volt from a dealership in Toronto in 2019. He was happy with his purchase, as he wanted to reduce his carbon footprint and save money on gas. He paid $18,000 for the car, which had a range of about 60 kilometres on electric power before switching to gas.
However, in August 2021, Jenkins noticed that his car was running out of battery faster than usual. He took it to a mechanic, who told him that the battery was defective and needed to be replaced. Jenkins was shocked when he was told that a new battery would cost him $51,000.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke,” Jenkins told Global News. “How can a battery cost more than the car itself?”
The warranty that expired
Jenkins contacted General Motors (GM), the manufacturer of the Chevrolet Volt, to see if they could help him with the cost of the battery. He was told that his car was out of warranty, and that he would have to pay the full price for the battery.
The Chevrolet Volt comes with a 8-year/160,000-kilometre warranty on the battery and related components. Jenkins’ car had exceeded both the time and distance limits of the warranty, as it had been driven for 180,000 kilometres and was seven years old.
GM told Global News that they were aware of Jenkins’ situation, and that they were working with him to find a solution. They also said that the battery failure was an isolated incident, and that the Volt was a reliable and durable vehicle.
“We stand behind our products and are committed to providing excellent customer service,” GM said in a statement.
The challenge of electric vehicles in Canada
Jenkins’ case highlights the challenge of owning and maintaining an electric vehicle in Canada, where the market is still developing and the infrastructure is lacking. According to Statistics Canada, there were only about 180,000 electric vehicles registered in Canada in 2020, accounting for less than one per cent of the total vehicle fleet.
One of the main barriers to electric vehicle adoption is the high upfront cost, which can be two to three times higher than a comparable gas-powered vehicle. While electric vehicles can save money on fuel and maintenance in the long run, the initial investment can be prohibitive for many consumers.
Another barrier is the availability and accessibility of charging stations, which are essential for electric vehicle owners to travel long distances and avoid range anxiety. According to Natural Resources Canada, there were about 13,000 public charging stations across Canada in 2020, but most of them were concentrated in urban areas and along major highways.
The federal government has announced several initiatives to support the electric vehicle market in Canada, such as offering rebates of up to $5,000 for eligible electric vehicles, investing $280 million to expand the charging network, and setting a target of 100 per cent electric vehicle sales by 2035.
The advice for electric car buyers
Jenkins said he regretted buying a used electric car without doing enough research on the battery and the warranty. He said he felt misled by the dealership, which did not inform him of the potential cost of replacing the battery. He said he hoped his story would serve as a warning for other electric car buyers.
“I would advise anyone who is thinking of buying an electric car to do their homework and ask a lot of questions,” Jenkins said. “Don’t make the same mistake I did.”