A large number of electric vehicles (EV) written off in North America have found themselves back on the road in Ukraine.

    A report by Wired has detailed the hidden industry repairing EVs that were once written off in North America.

    Opportunistic mechanics in several countries are going to the effort to repair these EVs so they can be on-sold for a profit.

    Wired reports Ukraine is a top-three destination for written-off EVs along with Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, and the secondhand EV market there is booming.

    Although far fewer automakers sell new EVs in Ukraine than in North America, Wired reports nine per cent of new vehicle registrations in Ukraine are EVs – which is the same as the US and double that of neighbouring Poland and Czechia.

    Initially, the Nissan Leaf was dominating used EV sales as it was the only EV that had been on the market long enough to accrue extensive aftermarket support. However, research from Circular Energy Storage shows the market has now started to pivot to the Tesla Model 3.

    Research from Automarket Research Institute (a Ukrainian research group) published by Wired for the month of October shows the Leaf led in used imports with 573 examples, but the Model 3 wasn’t far off with 443.

    While the industry had been expected to decline rapidly due to the Russian invasion, the opposite has happened.

    Ukraine’s EV fleet has doubled since July 2021, to 64,312 vehicles according to the Automarket Research Institute. There are reportedly 11,000 public chargers in the country for owners to use.

    One mechanic, Ivan Malakhovsky, told Wired he fixes around 100 Teslas a month, roughly a fifth of which come from overseas, and that EVs have become popular as the war has driven up fuel prices.

    “There is a joke here that all poor people are driving electric cars, and all the rich people are driving petrol cars. Tesla is a common-people, popular car because it’s very cheap in maintenance,” he said.

    Damaged EVs are reportedly heading overseas because North American repairers are finding modern cars increasingly complex machines to repair, and in the case of EVs, dangerous to work on if the battery has been compromised.

    It’s also reported that a contributing factor is the lack of an industry-wide standard to measure battery health and no official guidance on how to handle damaged batteries.

    As a result, manufacturers are refusing to sanction battery repairs due to liability concerns.

    Wired reports word from numerous sources that damaged EVs are more likely to be written off than internal-combustion powered counterparts.

    A Reuters analysis reportedly found a “large number” of damaged EVs had lower mileage and were near new.

    However, in the US there is reportedly increasing pressure to keep damaged EVs from making it overseas due to shipping safety concerns.

    Additionally, there is reportedly a desire to keep the precious metals inside batteries local, in a bid to secure the local supply of raw materials.

    It’s also reported that another motivation to keep damaged EVs stateside is to avoid dumping potentially dangerous e-waste on countries that don’t have the infrastructure or policies to deal with the hazardous bi-products.

    James Gelding
    James Gelding is a Contributor at CarExpert.
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