Most Used Electric Car Buyers Have No Way To Confirm Vehicle Battery Health

from the this-could-be-a-problem dept

As we make the shift from gas to electric vehicles, there are a few issues we still haven't really paved the way for. One is the fact that, with gas taxes being the primary way we fund highway infrastructure, we need to develop alternative infrastructure funding (not a topic that tends to get priority in a hype and flash-obsessed culture, as John Oliver has been quick to remind everyone). The 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993, and the Congressional Budget Office says that if the funding system doesn’t evolve by 2030, federal transportation funding will exceed its budget by a cool $188 billion.

The other problem, highlighted by Aaron Gordon at Wired, is that used car buyers and sellers currently have no way to confirm the battery health of a used electric car. Given the used car market is twice as big as the new car market, you can probably see how this could become a notable problem. Especially given that the battery health meter on most of these vehicles can be reset, allowing the seller of the car to effectively lie to buyers about how much life the battery has left:

"Churchill noticed something was wrong on his drive back home. When he left, the car estimated it had 80 miles of range. By the time he finished his 25-mile commute, it said it had 30 miles of range left. And in the next few days, Churchill said the battery health meter lost two bars. When he called the dealer to complain, he was shuffled between departments and ultimately ignored.

After doing some research, Churchill learned the battery health meter can be reset using a car diagnostic tool. After resetting, the meter will display all 12 bars for a short period before recalibrating after some use, just as Churchill's did. During this time, the car is essentially lying about its battery health."

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are 17 million new cars sold in the US every year, compared to 40 million used vehicles. Currently only the Nissan Leaf even has a battery health meter customers can view. Every other electric vehicle currently on the market restricts that information to proprietary devices that typically only the sellers or dealers have access to, which will likely in time tether this whole discussion to the right to repair debate, and the obnoxious ways car makers restrict your ability to repair (or even have transparency into) things you own.

While the California Air Resources Board is cooking up a set of rules (pdf) aimed at protecting consumers from fraud on this front, the vast majority of states are... not doing that. What could possibly go wrong?

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: car batteries, electric cars, used cards


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    nasch (profile), 11 Jun 2021 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Re: Typical EV FUD

    the Port of Los Angeles pays Shell to pump millions of gallons of sludge and waste into the ground (since 1960) to keep the land portions from sinking.

    Do you have a link for this? Sounds like an interesting story.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.