Written Off EVs Given New Life On Ukrainian Roads

Electric vehicles written off in North America are being sent overseas where local repairers reinstate them for use on public roads, according to a report by Wired.

The website said Ukraine, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates were the most popular destinations for US vehicle write-offs. A repairer in eastern Ukraine reportedly fixes about 100 Tesla vehicles a month, with roughly a fifth of those sourced from overseas.

North American body shops are reluctant to repair EVs due to their complexity and concern about electric shock and fire caused by thermal runaway, particularly given the lack of an industry-wide standard to monitor battery condition and handle damaged batteries. Additionally, vehicle manufacturers may refuse to approve battery repairs because of liability concerns.

This hasn’t deterred some Ukrainian operators, who specialise in repairing totalled EVs and are capitalising on increasing demand after the Russia-Ukraine conflict drove up petrol prices.

According to Circular Energy Storage, a UK-based consultancy that tracks the international flow of used EVs and batteries, demand for used and damaged EVs began with Nissan’s Leaf due to their ready availability, but expanded to include all brands and models as the EV market developed.

Damaged cars are purchased online and shipped overseas by their new owners or professional traders looking to flip them.

According to Wired, finding parts to repair EVs can be challenging. Some use social media sites, others buy two damaged cars and combine them into one, while others still find parts suppliers in the US and Europe or buy Chinese-made reproductions.

Despite the growing trend, the US wants to reduce the export of damaged EVs citing safety concerns, particularly the potential for fire aboard cargo ships. It also wants to retain valuable minerals used in EV batteries and avoid exporting e-waste to countries that do not have the ability to recycle it.