Here’s why you may struggle to find a workshop to repair your EV

Fact Checked
Updated 07/06/2024
Here’s why you may struggle to find a workshop to repair your EV

Time to read : 4 Minutes

The number of Aussies owning electric vehicles (EVs) keeps growing as government incentives and fuel savings lure more households, but it's creating a new headache for insurers.

Like any major change, it takes time for industries to catch up and insurers are now struggling to repair EVs that have been involved in minor accidents – which is having a knock-on effect on premiums.

Insurers are being forced to write off EVs after minor incidents due to: 

  • a lack of skilled mechanics in Australia

  • delays on parts and issues with certified facilities

  • outdated laws and regulations. 

Minor accidents are also causing long repair times plus inflated costs.

Why are EVs being written off?

The first EV hit the Australian market in 2008, but it’s taken a long time for them to increase in popularity. Even 2023, the biggest year on record for EVs to date, saw only 87,217 fully electric vehicles sold. 

  • That may sound like a big number but it’s only 7.2% of new car sales in Australia annually.

  • EVs in general tend to require a little less ongoing maintenance than petrol or diesel vehicles.

  • These two facts means there’s a limited number of mechanics and repair shops in Australia who are certified – or even willing – to work on EVs.

That’s a problem if your EV is involved in an accident – even a minor one – as it’s often necessary for the battery to be checked. 

Even if the battery doesn’t appear to be damaged, it may need to be depowered and removed for a repairer to work on the car.

All these works require an auto electrician, and one that can work specifically on EVs. Currently only approximately 10% of repairers in Australia are certified to work on EVs. 

This gets more complicated when you think about additional restrictions such as locations – people located in remote areas will have an even harder time finding an EV certified repairer – and the need for an insurer approved repairer. 

In fact, the need for industry upskilling is one of the factors currently being considered in an Australian Parliamentary inquiry reviewing Australia’s transition to EVs. 

And these are just the initial problems. There’s a whole raft of additional reasons that your insurer may balk at an EV claim. 

Why general insurers are struggling with EV claims

Parts delays: there are limited parts for EVs held locally, which can result in repair delays. Some manufacturers, like MG, have committed to holding parts locally to decrease the time for repairs, but other brands can experience significant delays. 

Increased costs: repair costs for EVs are often higher than petrol and diesel cars. This can be off putting for insurers and may result in higher premiums.

Outdated laws: regulations are another thing that has had to catch up to changing demand, and until recently any crash resulted in an EV having to be classified as a write off. EV advocates are working with the government to help increase understanding around EVs, but the process will take time. 

What does this mean for me?

For people that want to purchase an EV, possible issues with insurance claims down the track are unlikely to be a deterrent. 

However, if you’re in a regional area, or are looking to purchase a model that isn’t popular locally, it’s more likely you’ll experience delays in the event that you need to make a claim.

The automotive industry is working hard to adapt to the changing landscape and regulations are changing. Over time, these issues will likely become a thing of the past, particularly as EVs increase in popularity. 

What about buying a second hand EV?

New EVs can be really expensive and buying second hand is a great option if you’re making the switch for environmental reasons. Really, buying a used EV isn’t significantly different to buying a used petrol or diesel car, but there are several things to keep in mind: 

  • EVs will still need to be maintained and should have log books. Tyres and brakes and other consumables still need to be in good condition for the car to be roadworthy and the seller should be able to demonstrate that they’ve had these things maintained.

  • You’ll also need to check the battery health of the car. EV batteries are designed to last well beyond 10 years without significant deterioration, but some models perform better than others.

  • Some EVs will have an onboard diagnostic device which can be checked, and cars with up to date logbooks should have a battery health report available. If none of these options are available, you can charge the vehicle to 100% and check it against manufacturer standards to get a rough idea of any deterioration.

  • Make sure the car has its original mobile charger and that the port type is still supported. Check for wear and tear like you would on any other feature. If it’s an older model, do your research and see if current owners have any issues charging these vehicles, particularly if you plan to use public charging stations often. 

  • If the car has software that needs to be regularly updated, make sure this has occurred and there aren’t any performance issues. 

The vehicle and its battery will have a warranty, but these differ significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and you should check to see if you’re covered before you buy. 

Bottom line

  • EVs are still a relatively new addition to Australia’s roads so it’s natural that there are some teething problems while the rest of the industry adapts. 

  • Skills shortages and parts delays are primary concerns for the industry and are being addressed slowly. These problems won’t exist forever. 

  • You should treat buying an EV the same way you treat any other significant purchase and do your research beforehand so you know what you’re in for. 

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The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions. Any opinions expressed within an article are those of the author and do not specifically reflect the views of Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd.