This quote was for a replacement battery at a BMW dealership in Seattle.
The car involved is a 2015 i3 REX, which was worth about $47,000 when new.
Other owners of i3s and different EVs have received wildly different quotes for the same work.
A Reddit user recently posted an estimate they received for a replacement battery for their 2015 BMW i3 which quotes the price of the component as a staggering US $71,208.27.
While this seems like a ridiculous price, higher than most other battery replacement estimates, owners of different electric vehicles have posted wildly varying quotes they received themselves, ranging from a few thousand dollars to $30,000.
This sheds light on a situation that remains nebulous, namely EV repairs and battery replacement.
Indeed, numerous owners of electric vehicles have found out that dealerships are charging almost as much as the car is worth to replace the battery.
In this most recent case, other Reddit users have speculated that the high quote for the component is meant to deter the driver because the BMW dealership in Seattle is not willing, or perhaps not equipped, to perform the work. Since dealerships can’t simply refuse to work on a vehicle they sold because they “don’t want to”, they find other ways to discourage owners and push them away.
These high repair estimates are leading many skeptics to consider electric vehicles as single-use items that work for a few years and then become useless once the battery needs replacing.
On the other hand, there are several specialized shops that can replace batteries and return EVs to almost-new condition for significantly less money than what dealers are asking for.
One of the reasons why this is possible is that main dealers are usually reluctant to replace only the defective modules or cells, preferring to change the entire battery at once.
In the case of a BMW i3 REX, like the car involved in the latest story, a complete battery is made of eight individual modules, which cost about $3,000 to $3,500 each to replace.
Since most often there is only one module that goes bad at a time, repairs can be made much more affordably than many would expect, and even if the entire battery does need to be replaced, the total cost of materials should remain under $30,000, a far cry from the $71,208 quote.
While having to pay close to $30,000 to keep a ten-year-old car on the road is ludicrous, it is worth remembering that battery replacements are still very rare on the whole, and that many of the first EVs such as the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf are still happily driving around on their original batteries.
Furthermore, the owner of the i3 who was quoted over $70,000 for a battery has clarified that their vehicle is still functional and they were only “thinking about the future”.
Nevertheless, automakers (not just BMW) will have to show that they are committed to supporting their EV customers in the long term with better repair solutions and more reasonable prices if they don’t want to scare a large portion of potential buyers away from their new electric models.