We used to have a fine old term for this that got used quite a bit back in the 70s: planned obsolescence.
None of these are old cars. In fact, the oldest Spark is younger than the average non-electric car currently in service as a daily driver, which is about twelve years old. Most of these with many more years of useful service left, because they don’t have battery packs that cost more than the car is worth (by then) to replace.
Which is a built-in problem for all electric cars. Some may recall the case of the irate Finnish man who TNT’d his not-very-old Tesla Model S when he found out that replacing its dead battery pack would cost him on the order of $20,000.
But at least a replacement battery was still available.
Without that, you’ve got nothing – no matter how much you’re willing to pay for it. And unlike non-electric cars, there is very little you can do about it – other than eat the loss and move on to the next one. This is because an EV’s dead battery pack is not like a non-electric car’s failed transmission or engine – or even both, together. In the case of the latter, it is almost always possible to swap in a used or remanufactured/rebuilt transmission or engine – and drive on. It is not possible with electric cars for which there aren’t any replacements available, new or used.
And even if the original manufacturer no longer makes new replacement engines/transmissions for a given IC car, these can usually both be rebuilt at a price that’s worth the doing. Electric car battery packs, once dead, are throw-aways – just like the dead battery that no longer powers your sail fawn. At which point, you throw away the sail fawn.
The electric car, too.
The difference being you probably paid a lot more for the electric car.
Interestingly, there has been little-to-no coverage in the general or even the automotive press about this business. It’s interesting – because you can imagine the uproar that would arise if any other barely ten-year-old car was no longer supported by its manufacturer – and had a built-in design feature that assured it would be rendered useless years before it reached the age of the average non-electric car currently in service.
Of course, the reason for the absence of such coverage is because it might call attention to the shorter useful lifespan of electric cars, due to the shorter useful life of their battery packs relative to the useful life of an IC car’s engine or transmission. These are expected to last at least 12-15 years – and most last longer. If they fail sooner, the car – and its maker – gets a well-deserved reputation for shoddiness and most people will avoid buying a car made by that maker.
It is discharge-recharge cycling that ages a battery. Especially “fast” charging. You can limit the damage by not “fast” charging – and not discharging – the EV battery. But then the EV isn’t much use, is it?
No such issue exists with non-electric cars in that driving down to fumes in the tank has no effect at all on the useful service life of the vehicle. A non-electric car that’s 15 or 20 years old holds as much gas in its tank – and travels just as far – as it did when it was new. An electric car’s battery pack is unlikely to be capable of holding the same charge it could when new when it is ten years old – and maybe sooner.
And if there’s no replacement battery available – or it costs more than it’s worth to replace it – the car is useless.
Many people will find out about this after they bought an EV. It probably explains another interesting thing about EVs that the general press (and the automotive press) haven’t covered much, which is that a large percentage of first-time EV buyers didn’t buy a second one.
Yeah, well, you know what they say about “fool me once, fool me twice.” Guess that smug, superior feeling an EV owner gets from knowing he’s being a good, obedient little shitlib and Doing His Part to help save Gaia only goes so far when, after being a full-time pain in the ass the whole time he’s had it, his little toy strugglebuggy shits the bed for good at the exact same time his neighbor’s Focus or Elantra is only just beginning to hit its stride.