"Shocking Number": Rivian Owner Sees $42,000 Repair Bill For Minor Accident

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Jul 16, 2023 - 07:00 PM

We've explained to readers that auto insurers are inflating premiums for their customers due to the skyrocketing costs associated with vehicle repairs. Some insurers are opting to write off electric vehicles even for minor incidents, as it's uneconomical to fix these complex systems. For those insurers who do undertake the repairs on EVs, the expenses are shockingly high. 

The latest example of insurers getting roasted on repairs is a report from The New York Times that says a Rivian owner said his R1T electric pickup truck was involved in a minor fender bender in February in Columbus, Ohio. The insurance company of the driver who struck Chris Apfelstadt's R1T offered to pay about $1,600 for the repairs. 

However, after the R1T was taken to a certified repair shop in Columbus, the costs soared to a whopping $42,000 -- or about half of the starting price of the EV. 

"A key reason is that the accident damaged a sleek panel that extends from the truck's rear to front roof pillars. Repairing and repainting it set off a cascade of pricey work, including removing the interior ceiling material, known as the headliner, and front windshield," NYT wrote. 

Perhaps the high costs were also associated with "Rivian's small size and youth"... and "like other auto start-ups, the company, which is based in Irvine, Calif., and delivered its first vehicles to customers in 2021, does not sell through franchised dealers and has had to build an independent repair network from scratch," the paper continued. 

Auto experts have said repairing EVs is more expensive than fixing gasoline vehicles. We penned a note in March titled Not ESG-Friendly: Insurers Junk Entire EVs For Minor Accidents. It only takes one minor accident to damage a battery pack, and if that occurs, it must be replaced at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars. 

At the same time, auto insurance rates are soaring as the cost of fixing not just EVs but all vehicles has led to significant losses for big insurance companies over the last few years. America's largest insurer, State Farm, lost 28 cents for every premium written in 2022. It posted a $13 billion underwriting loss for its auto arm. 

If you've visited a vintage car show this summer, you've likely overheard chatter like, "I wish they still made cars like these." We agree that incorporating technology into cars is beneficial, but the expense of maintenance and repair in the event of any malfunction or minor fender bender is astronomical. Decades ago, when vehicles had no microchips, anyone with the right tools and common sense could repair these simple machines and even change the oil. It's becoming clear that complex automobiles have their downfalls.