The hidden costs of EVs: Ohio man gets $42,000 repair bill after fender bender in electric truck

Turns out that switching to an electric car for the gas savings might not be so straightforward.

Published: May 6, 2023 12:17am

Updated: May 6, 2023 12:28am

The Biden administration's narrative that electric vehicles are ultimately more cost-effective than gas cars once fueling costs are factored in appears to omit a few factors from its own equation, if one Ohio man's experience is any guide.

Landscaper Chris Apfelstadt of Columbus, Ohio, shared a post in a Facebook group for Rivian fans recounting how while driving his electric truck one day, he was struck from behind at a "relatively low speed." No airbags inflated, he noted, and purported pictures of the accident show only minor damage to the rear bumper of his pickup. 

"I figured the repair would be expensive but had no idea!" Apfelstadt wrote on Facebook.

He went on to say that the insurance company for the woman who rear-ended him assessed the damage, estimated the repairs would cost $1,600 and wrote him a check for that amount. 

Turns out, they were more than $40,000 off the mark. 

The shop he sent his truck to "completely disassembled" the back of the truck, according to Apfelstadt, and discovered much more damage than previously thought based on exterior inspection alone — so much more that the "final bill" for his fender bender came to more than $42,000. Apfelstadt told Just The News the "at-fault driver's insurance covered the entire repair bill" since her policy had a $50,000 cap. 

On top of the huge repair tab and the battle he says he'll face with insurance over "diminished value," Apfelstadt said it took over 10 weeks for his truck to be repaired and returned to his possession. 

Still, Apfelstadt told Just The News, he hasn't changed his stance on EVs. "I did not buy the Rivian for any political or environmental motive," he said in an email. "I simply liked the brand and loved the look of the truck."

He concluded by warning that potential purchasers "probably should not buy an EV or even a new ICE car" if they can't afford the repair costs.

Apfelstadt's experience illustrates a broader concern that electric vehicles — despite being touted as wallet-friendly since they don't use gas — could surprise owners with painful hidden costs. 

Here are just a few:

Replacing the battery

The cost of replacing an electric car battery is significantly higher than replacing a battery in a gas-powered car. Whereas a battery for a gas car typically wouldn't exceed a few hundred dollars, EV batteries can range anywhere from $5,000 to $22,000. reports that replacement costs for older models like the 2014 Nissan Leaf or the 2014 Tesla Model S are a steep $13,500 and $17,269, respectively.

Technology columnist Rob Enderle recounted recently at how the battery in his luxury electric Jaguar needed to be replaced after the vehichle was improperly secured by a tow truck driver with little experience towing EVs. The estimate he received for replacement of the battery? A whopping $100,000 — "which was more than twice what the car was worth," he wrote. 

Fortunately, most manufacturers do offer an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty for EV batteries. However, wrecking an EV is a different story. 

"Minor damage to an electric vehicle battery pack can lead to the entire car being totaled, leaving the expensive battery packs piling up in the scrapyard and causing higher insurance premiums," the pro-market Institute for Energy Research warned recently on its website

"With no way to repair or assess slightly damaged battery packs after accidents, electric vehicles can lose up to 50 percent of their price, rendering it uneconomical to replace them," the IER explained.

This is especially true of models like Tesla's Model Y, according to the site, which claims the Texas-made model's "battery pack has 'zero repairability' because the battery pack is part of the car’s structure," making it prohibitively expensive to remove or replace. 


Another hidden cost of electric vehicles may lurk in state fees imposed to own and operate them. Consumer Reports found that as far back as 2019, multiple U.S. states were charging EV owners more in fees than gas car owners were paying in taxes on gasoline, with a few charging more than double. 

Fast forward to 2023, and EV fees are still alive and well. States like Colorado and South Dakota have $50 annual fees for electric cars, while other states such as Arkansas, Ohio and Washington have annual fees ranging from $200-$225. Texas is currently on the verge of enacting a similar fee.

Charging the car

One of the main reasons consumers cite for switching from gas cars to electric is their belief they will save money on gas. However, it might not be that straightforward, according to one consulting firm's analysis.

Anderson Economic Group found that with gas prices falling from historic highs and electricity prices rising late last year, "the fuel cost for most Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles was comparatively cheaper in the final quarter of 2022 than charging an electric vehicle (EV)."

In Q4 of 2022, according to the Anderson study, the cost to fuel a mid-priced gas vehicle for a 100-mile drive was approximately $11.29, nearly 31 cents cheaper than it cost a similarly sized EV for a 100-mile charge from home, but over $3 less expensive than charging a vehicle at a public station.

Unfortunately, the installation price for an at-home electric vehicle charging station can also burn a hole in the wallet.

"Most American homeowners will spend around $1,150 to $2,750 to purchase and install a 240-volt charging station," reports MotorTrend, noting a "good home charger" is about $350-$750, while installation can cost upwards of $2,000. 

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