Roadside Assistance: EV ‘nightmare’ as prices crash

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Car trouble? Send your motoring questions to Cars@news.com.au and our advice columnist Iain Curry will get on the case.

ELON’S FIRE SALE

I collected my Tesla Model Y RWD two weeks ago after ordering it for $60,900 plus on-roads. Today I see a price drop of $5000 to $55,900. What’s going on? Elon and his company aren’t endearing themselves to customers. Resale’s going to be a nightmare when we sell it.

Jason C, Sunshine Coast

he Tesla price rollercoaster continues! The Model Y RWD reached peak selling price of $72,300 in June 2022; it was $69,300 in May 2023, and a year later is now $13,400 cheaper. Not great news for you: yours has basically shed an extra $5k overnight. Even the most hardcore Tesla-owning loyalist won’t be happy, and you’re doubtless fuming. There’s been heavy EV discounting this month: Peugeot’s e-2008 is down $25,000 and the Nissan Leaf down over $10,000, both now $39,990 drive-away. Bargains to be had?

BATTERY CHAT

I’m considering a hybrid Toyota RAV4 or hybrid Honda ZR-V. What are their hybrid battery warranties, and more importantly, what’s the warranty on replacement batteries when needed?

Sue Hill, email

I’ve heard from many dissuaded from buying hybrids due to misinformation or lack of clarity on battery life and replacement costs. Both Toyota and Honda offer reassuring warranties: eight years/unlimited km from Honda, and five years/unlimited km from Toyota, with an additional five years if you use Toyota’s annual Hybrid Health Check inspection. Anecdotally, hybrid batteries last well over ten years. Toyota Australia told me it’s about $3500 to supply and fit replacement RAV4 hybrid batteries. Honda’s is more confronting: roughly $10,000 plus 2.5 hours labour for a ZR-V’s, but it’d likely be cheaper in future. A decade old Honda CR-Z hybrid’s replacement battery is around $2000 plus labour. I’m not impressed with a replacement hybrid battery’s warranty: one year (Honda) and two years (Toyota) with unlimited km.

CHANGE NEEDED

Are there roadside breakdown alternatives to the NRMA? We are seniors and have been let down twice recently.

Name withheld

Absolutely, there are alternatives for breakdown cover, and I’m a firm believer in dropping any business that lets you down, as you appear to have been. Internet forums and online reviews are good sources. I find productreview.com.au to have (mainly) genuine, believable reviews. It ranks 24/7 Roadservices Australia highest among roadside assistance providers (4.8 out of 5), but NRMA’s not far behind (4.4/5). As with all insurance, shop around and make them prove their worth.

HYBRID HELP

I’m looking for a mid-priced, mid-size SUV but am unsure whether to go petrol or hybrid. We’re in our mid-70s and travel with a rear-mounted rack for two bicycles. Friends have recommended a Toyota Corolla Cross and Subaru Forester. What are your thoughts and any others to consider?

Jan Barber, email

If your annual kilometres are low – say, under 10,000km – the extra purchase price of a hybrid over petrol probably isn’t worth it. That said, hybrids have better resale, so target one if you can. From hybrids I’ve tested, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai impressed most with accurate (ish) claims of very low fuel use. I returned 4.5L/100km in a Hyundai Kona; 4.8L/100km a Toyota Corolla Cross and 5.3L/100km a Honda CR-V.Both the Corolla Cross and CR-V would suit your needs and have low running costs – the Honda’s pricier at $59,990 driveaway, but has excellent eight-year warranty (Toyota’s is five). The Subaru Forester’s a top choice if regularly on unsealed roads, but I only managed 7.6L/100km in its hybrid. Try the Kona – the new one may be large enough for you. Hyundai’s updated Tucson lands by mid-year, but is only a ‘mild’ hybrid using 5.9L/100km. 

CHINESE CHEAPIE CHOICE

I’m looking at medium SUVs between $30-35,000: the Chery Omoda 5, Haval Jolion and MG HS. I’m leaning towards the Omoda 5 on looks and features, but reviews criticise its ‘bings and bongs’ plus dash rattles. There are several low kilometre and ex-demo Omoda 5s on sale with big discounts. Is there something wrong with them?

Neil Coles, Mornington

The Chery Omoda 5 has appealing looks, but my colleague David McCowen gave it two stars and said it had ‘sub-par quality and poorly calibrated driver aids.’ I’ve also seen worrying owner reports online, while dozens of near-new ones in the classifieds are concerning. The Jolion’s a small SUV, so look to the larger (and better) Haval H6 SUV. But it – and MG’s HS – have room for improvement in ride, handling and driver aid areas. But we must cut them some slack – they’re well priced with long warranties. Sample a SsangYong Korando ELX ($33,000 drive-away) for solid value, but cross-shop all versus a Mazda CX-5 G20, currently $37,990 drive-away. It’s a classier drive for only a few grand more, plus far better resale.

KEEP ON RUNNING 

I’ve just ordered a new Mazda3 and wonder about ‘running in’ a modern petrol engine. I recall as a teen in the 1960s seeing signs on cars saying: ‘Running in, please pass.’

James Taylor, email

This one went straight to my mechanic for comment. “Breaking in a modern car isn’t as necessary as before,” he said. “I’d still give some time for the engine and transmission to settle and adjust, but tolerances and fluids are so much better today. Obviously, don’t be an idiot, and I’d suggest using various RPMs, not thrashing it from cold or towing for a few thousand kilometres. And like an athlete doing a warm-down lap, if you drive hard, let it cool a bit before switching off.”

RESTRICTIVE POWERS

Re P-platers and fast EVs, I’m a software engineer and am certain EVs can be electronically power restricted. This ‘mode’ can easily be added, updated or modified and it’d be great to see it implemented by manufacturers. The only problem is if the local copper believes if a driver was truly in restricted mode – a telltale drive history would solve that.

Dylan Field, email

Agreed. But we only need to look at how poorly policed e-bikes, e-scooters and e-motocross bikes are. These are, by law, supposed to have speed restrictors but appear ludicrously cheap and easy to circumvent. I’ve seen practically zero initiative from the police or council in my area to address it.

Volvo's EX30 breaks all the rules

UNDER COVER

Re EVs and P-platers, it’s worth mentioning some insurers have age restrictions for EV drivers. Mine won’t insure anyone under 25 on my Tesla Model 3 AWD.

Paul Merhulik, email

That’s a right pain if the family car’s an EV and you want the kids to drive it, but can’t get insurance. I always advise EV shoppers to first get insurance quotes. It’s typically more expensive (by around 20 per cent) than combustion cars, and there may be harsh age restrictions, as you’ve found.

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