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2021 July 7

Will car scrap yards be needed after electric cars will become popular?

Most cars, that are ridden on Lithuanian roads, have exceeded the 10-year limit. According to the data of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), 16 years is still the average age of the car fleet in Lithuania. Therefore, services of car scrap yards are often needed by the car drivers of the country, who are looking for something to replace a worn or faulty car part. Let’s try to forecast how this market will change in the future: with state subsidies for electric cars, their number will gradually increase. When electric cars in the country will make up most of the car fleet, which parts will be needed for them? We have discussed this with Vilius Civilka, who is the representative of RRR.lt – a platform that unites car scrap yards, and with Dainius Jakas, who is the founder of 100procelektrinis.lt blog.

Electric car drivers may not bother about many parts of engine

According to the data of the State Enterprise Regitra, nearly 67 thousand passenger cars of class M1 have already been acquired and registered this year. Fiat, Toyota, Volkswagen, Škoda and Peugeot are the most popular brands of new cars, while Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Opel are the most popular brands of used cars.

In October 2020, the US Consumer Organisation ‘Consumer Reports’ has announced a study evaluating the reliability of electric cars. According to this study, electric car owners incur less repair costs because electric cars do not have part of operating fluids which are characteristic of cars powered by an internal combustion engine. In addition, cars powered by petrol, diesel or gas are vehicles that are more mechanically complex.

Brakes, suspension parts, such as shock absorbers and hinges, and air filters are the main parts that require regular inspection of an electric vehicle. Drive belts for engine, chains, sparking plugs – drivers can forget about the problems associated with these parts. On the other hand, a battery is the most expensive part of an electric car, and, when it needs to be replaced, owners of electric cars may incur costs of several thousand euros. However, it needs to be replaced only every 8-10 years. When a battery becomes outworn, does not mean that an electric car can no longer be run – such a car may simply travel a shorter distance after a single battery charge.

New car owners also use the service of car scrap yard

Vilius Civilka, the Sales Manager of the eBay Division of platform RRR.lt, which is administered by UAB Ovoko, says that car parts from Lithuanian car scrap yards are sold through eBay even to foreing buyers. When asked about the car parts, that drivers most often turn to them for, he confirmed that engine parts are among the most in demand.

‘Fast-wearing engine parts and engine units, such as turbines, parts of injection system, generators, air conditioning systems and other parts of internal combustion engine, are the specific categories of goods, for which buyers apply‘, – says V. Civilka.

Inquiries about the above parts and elements are the most common. However, some customers may need, for example, a plastic cover to cover a bolt in the passenger compartment of the car. Buyers are also often looking for parts not because they have problems with their car, but simply because they want to improve the car, and to make it look exclusive.

‘Drivers of German-made cars BMW, Volkswagen or Audi often ask if we have more sophisticated parts, such as Xenon or LED car lights, parts of a sportier outer package M Performance, S Line or R line, more comfortable leather seats or newer multimedia systems’, – said V. Civilka.

He destroys the myth of that buyers are only looking for old car parts.

‘Contrary to what may seem at first glance, demand for newer car parts is high. Cars sometimes get involved in traffic accidents, they are damaged when natural disasters or other incidents occur. In such cases, buyers need body parts for their cars, and if the damage to the car is more serious, then they are also looking for car interior, engine or chassis parts. After similar incidents, even one-year-old cars are sometimes repaired in places other than an authorised car repair shop and this is done for the simplest reason – to save on repair costs even several times. In this case, drivers lose the right to exercise the manufacturer’s warranty, but parts from a car scrap yard are used to repair the car’, – reveals the interviewee.

Electric car enthusiast: these cars do not have many mechanical components, and since such parts are absent, they do not become faulty

And which parts are ultimately needed for electric cars? Dainius Jakas, the author of 100procelektrinis.lt blog, knows from his personal experience that, for example, after driving about 30,000 kilometres, only brake fluid and indoor air filters had to be replaced in the electric car Nissan Leaf. The driver is confident that, after driving so many kilometres, a brake fluid in an electric vehicle is changed only because there is nothing else to change.

This enthusiast, who has tested not one electric car already, says that electric cars will need fewer spare parts than is currently required for other cars.

‘Suspension elements, hinges, and linkages are operated in an electric car for the same amount of time as they are operated in other cars. However, there are fewer components in an electric car that may become faulty: it has no clutch, injection and exhaust systems, all oil filters, gearbox. And when they are absent, they simply do not become faulty! Although, each manufacturer’s electric car ‘suffers’ from some specific ‘disease’, however, compared to conventional cars, electric car drivers have to take their cars to car repair shops less frequently’, – said D. Jakas.

But he added that all electric cars, which are driven on Lithuanian roads, are relatively new – a 10-year-old Nissan Leaf is possibly the oldest electric car in Lithuania. Thus, for the time being, we should refrain from claiming that they are cheaper to operate and that this type of car breaks down less often.

Used batteries – a car part from car scrap yards, that will potentially be the most in demand in the future

During the period he drives electric cars, Dainius noticed that their brake pads and discs really wear more slowly – the brake pads and discs of Tesla car that he drives and that has already run 195,000 kilometres have never been replaced yet.

‘If your driving style is not ‘sporty’, the car brakes will be in good technical order for a very long time. Regeneration is triggered in many electric cars when the brake pedal is actuated faintly. Vigorous pedalling is required for the actual brake discs or pads to engage to be actuated. In other words, if your driving manner is not based on the principle ‘bottom-brake-bottom’, then you do not at all use brakes in the electric vehicle’, – explained D. Jakas.

And yet, which part is likely will need to be changed first after purchasing an electric car? D. Jakas assumes that the part to be replaced is a suspension. And further – it all depends on the manufacturer of the electric car. Nissan Leaf cars have problems with interior heating elements, Hyundai – with bearings, and Tesla electric cars – both with bearings and electronics.

Drivers talk about car batteries as of something horrible. When batteries are worn out, the car is believed to become straight away a pile of scrap metal. D. Jakas, however, believes that, in the future, we will look for used batteries in car scrap yards. Yes, their price is high. But the battery wears out not as fast as it may seem.

‘The extent of wear of the battery of my Tesla electric car, which has run nearly 200,000 kilometres, is 10%. If batteries were not maintained, they were a lot exposed to heat, then their residue (battery capacity) will, probably, be 40%. In this case, they will really have to be replaced. However, used batteries from dismantled electric cars are slowly emerging on the market. It appears that there will really be a higher number of used batteries in car scrap yards’, – says D. Jakas.

Vilius Civilka, the representative of RRR.lt platform, confirms prognosis of Dainius – various parts for electric cars can already be found in car scrap yards.

‘Our partners (nearly 800) already successfully trade in parts for hybrid and fully electric cars, they send them to various parts of the world. The electric engine itself does not have a lot of moving parts. For this reason, electric cars are probably more durable. However, an electric engine is also surrounded by many components, such as electric current regulators, high voltage wires, batteries. Gearboxes of electric cars are completely different compared to those of cars with an internal combustion engine. These parts are sensitive to climate change, humidity, vibration and severe reduction of electric current. Electric batteries get worn out, they need to be replaced with new batteries or with properly functioning used batteries. In addition, cars are constantly affected by causes such as accidents, floods, theft. For this reason, even a little used electric engine may need to be replaced. I think electric cars will definitely not be an exception, they will also need parts, just like any car with an internal combustion engine’, – thinks V. Civilka.

Which of them is more expensive to operate – a car or an electric car?

One Estonian taxi company decided to provide services using exclusively electric cars. Today, the electric cars of the company have already travelled 300,000 kilometres each and the residue of their battery is 70-80%.

Is it worth to purchase such used battery? D. Jakas is convinced that it is worth.

‘If someone purchases a car for personal use, it is doubtful if he will travel such a distance at all. After all, all cars in Lithuania have run less than 200,000 kilometres!’, – D. Jakas speaks ironically and remind the national hobby to ‘adjust’ the car mileage.

A used battery could cost between 2,000 and 3,000 euros. Is it a lot? Yes, a lot. However, D. Jakas reminds that, until that time when the battery of an analogous electric vehicle will get worn out, a car with internal combustion engine, which was operated for so many kilometres, will have already been repaired many times in a car repair shop.

‘It is likely that, after travelling so many kilometres, the sparking plugs, the gearbox and the clutch in a normal car will already have been replaced in the ordinary car. After summing it all up, the electric car battery will no longer seem so expensive. When I was driving a car with an internal combustion engine, each month I had to take the car to a car repair shop, where I had to spend 100, 200 or 50 euros. This is sort of a hire purchase, when you don’t even feel what is the total cost that you incur’, – says D. Jakas.

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