Epic video: Man protests high cost of replacing Tesla battery by blowing up his own car

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FINLAND — A Finnish man who was upset about a potential $22,000 replacement cost for a new Tesla battery decided to blow up his own vehicle with dynamite to protest the exorbitant price tag for the repair.

Using 66 pounds of dynamite, Tuomas Katainen, who lives in the Jaala village in south Finland’s Kymenlaakso, exploded his 2012 Tesla Model S at a former quarry, according to a report by The Epoch Times.

The Tesla S model 2012 cost between $57,400 and $77,400 when it was released, according to the report.

Tesla’s warranty covers battery replacements if the capacity drops below 70 percent within 150,000 miles or eight years of purchase, which can result in some owners of the older models facing hefty repair bills, according to The Epoch Times report.

Business Insider reported that the standard warranty on a Model S covers eight years or 150,000 miles, but can be voided if the battery is opened or serviced by anyone not authorized by Tesla. 

In addition, the warranty would not cover “damage resulting from intentional actions,” such as destroying a car for protest purposes.

After removing the lithium-ion battery, motors and other expensive components, Katainen and his crew hauled the white Tesla out to the old quarry at a remote village, which is about two hours from Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

An 8-minute video of the setup, explosion and cleanup is uploaded to YouTube and shows Katainen and others loading the Tesla with dynamite and placing a dummy with Elon Musk’s face on it inside the car.

Amidst a snowy yet beautiful location, the Tesla is blown up, with hundreds of pieces flying everywhere and littering the ground.

In the YouTube video, Katainen explained his thought processes:

“Well, when I bought that Tesla, the first 1,500 km were nice. It was an excellent car so far.

“Then error codes hit, so I ordered a tow truck to take my car in [for] service.

“So, the car was about a month in a Tesla dealer’s workshop, and finally, I got a call that they can’t do anything for my car [and that the] only option is to change the whole battery cell.

“The cost would be at least 20,000 € ($22,000), and [authorization was needed] from Tesla.

“So, I told them that I’m coming to pick up the Tesla. Now I’m going to explode the whole car away because apparently there was no guarantee or anything.”

Katainen donated his vehicle to Pommijätkät, a group of explosion experts on YouTube that regularly blows up various items.

Katainen then triggered the explosion by pressing a button from behind a protective blast shelter. He and others watched his Tesla explode into a fireball.

Katainen did not say what his car’s mileage was or show evidence that a replacement battery for a Tesla would cost $22,000.

However, Independent Journal Review reported that Tesla’s batteries are not cheap:

“The cost of electric vehicle battery packs is about $132 per kilowatt hour (kWh), Electrek reported at the end of November.

“The average Tesla battery pack has a capacity of 100 kWh, which means a battery pack would cost over $13,000.

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“Generally, $100 per kWh for a battery pack is the benchmark price necessary for electric vehicles to be cost-competitive with gas cars.

“At Tesla, one of CEO Elon Musk’s goals is to produce a $25,000 electric vehicle, Bloomberg reported.

“That is about $15,000 cheaper than the current Model 3, which is the cheapest car Tesla has on the market.

“But producing a cheaper model is difficult when the raw and necessary material of lithium is so expensive. At the beginning of the month, the price hit about $31,395 per ton.”

While the cost of electric vehicle batteries is one factor to consider, there are also other pros and cons to ponder.

For example, many experts say that electric vehicles create a lower carbon footprint over the course of their lifetime than traditional cars and trucks that use internal combustion engines, according to a report by CNBC.

The batteries in electric vehicles get charged by plugging into an electric source. However, electric grids are powered by fossil fuels, which tarnishes the “green” aspect of these cars.

In addition, the production of batteries for electric vehicles involves a lot of energy use and produces more carbon emissions than what is used in the production of traditional vehicles that use gas and oil.

CNBC noted:

“A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative found that the battery and fuel production for an EV generates higher emissions than the manufacturing of an automobile. But those higher environmental costs are offset by EVs’ superior energy efficiency over time.

“In short, the total emissions per mile for battery-powered cars are lower than comparable cars with internal combustion engines.”

The batteries that go into electric vehicles require the environmentally harmful process of mining for lithium, nickel and cobalt.

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The price for lithium, a key material, has skyrocketed in the past year, going up by more than 250 percent, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The mining, depending on the country of production, can contribute up to 40 percent more in carbon emissions, according to CNBC’s report.

A separate report by NBC News also focused on the damage that mining has caused. In the Philippines, there are nickel mines that are harming the local environment, which includes the country’s rain forests:

“The raw nickel dug out of the ground here ends up in the lithium batteries of plug-in vehicles manufactured by Tesla, Toyota and other automakers, according to an NBC News review of company filings and shipping records.

“With the demand for nickel skyrocketing, the Rio Tuba mine is now on the brink of expanding deeper into the rainforest, adding almost 10 square miles to its current footprint.

“Local environmentalists fear that it will wipe out the forest’s fragile ecosystem and increase toxic runoff into the rivers that flow past the farmland down below, jeopardizing the crops.”

NBC News pointed out an environmental paradox:

“The move to expand the mine comes as the destruction of the world’s rainforests, which play a crucial role in protecting wildlife and slowing climate change, is accelerating.

​​“With the demand for nickel expected to grow to at least 10 times what it is now by 2030, experts say companies will have no choice but to expand their mining operations.”

Gillian Galford, a professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, told NBC News:

“I think it’s a really difficult ethical dilemma. On one hand, we have a very promising technology that can help us address our fossil fuel dependence.

“But on the other hand, we have lots of environmental harms that can go into getting us to that point.”

So, while production of electric vehicles and their batteries produces more carbon emissions in the short term, experts say overall there is a reduced lifetime of emissions, but it will take years to get to a decarbonized point.

Florian Knobloch, a fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, told CNBC:

“It’s very important that more renewable electricity generation capacity is added to the grid each year, than coal generation capacity.

“Nowadays, it’s much easier to build large-scale solar or offshore wind compared to building new fossil fuel power plant. What we see is more renewable electricity coming into the grid all over the world.

“What we look at is how long will it take until the electricity grid is sufficiently decarbonized so that you see large benefit from electric vehicles.”

Another issue is the country that currently dominates the battery production market — China, which has 93 gigafactories producing lithium-ion battery cells.

In comparison, there are only four factories in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.

CNBC reported:

“Batteries made in older gigafactories in China are usually powered by fossil fuels, because that was the trend five to 10 years ago, he explained. So, EVs that are built with batteries from existing factories are going to have large carbon footprints.”

In addition, some countries, including China, have a reputation for downplaying or ignoring environmental concerns as they pursue their production goals.

Knobloch noted that even if everyone suddenly drove only electric vehicles, there would still be a lot of emissions being produced:

“So, it’s not [a] silver bullet for climate change mitigation. Ideally, you also try to reduce the number of cars massively and try to push things such as public transport.

“Getting people away from individual car transport is as important.”

According to a report by Axios, while electric cars are more expensive than gas models, they are cheaper to maintain over time:

“Maintenance costs for a battery-electric vehicle are 6.1 cents per mile, compared to 10.1 cents per mile for a conventional car with an internal combustion engine, according to research from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

“That’s because an EV doesn’t have things like spark plugs, an oil filter or a timing belt — and all the maintenance costs associated with them.

“EVs have fewer moving parts overall, so there’s less to break down.”

The geopolitical aspects of electric vehicles reveal that certain countries, such as China, already have powerful influences over price and access to critical components.

U.S. News reported that U.S. miners who hoped President Joe Biden would focus on domestic metal and mineral mining sources were dealt a blow when he decided to rely on foreign countries, including Canada, Australia, Brazil and others, for the raw materials.

Ali Zaidi, the deputy White House national climate adviser, told U.S. News:

“President Biden is focused on seizing the electric vehicle (EV) market, sourcing and manufacturing the supply chain here in America, and creating good-paying, union jobs.

“Building American-made EVs and shipping them around the world will include leveraging American-made parts and resources.

“This includes responsibly pursuing, developing, and mining critical minerals and materials used for EV batteries.”

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