Dead Teslas are being resurrected in a thriving industry in Ukraine

Credit: Tesla Asia/Twitter

Earlier this year, reports emerged stating that high repair costs for electric vehicles are resulting in even low-mileage cars being written off by insurance providers. As it turns out, some of these totaled electric vehicles like Teslas are being given a new lease on life — way over in Ukraine. 

As noted in a WIRED report, Ukraine is a top destination for used passenger vehicles that are sent overseas. Ukraine’s wreck importers, who are known for their ingenuity, have made a name for themselves by fixing electric vehicles that have been declared total losses in North America. Fortunately for Ukraine’s wreck importers, there is now a steady stream of crashed North American EVs since electric cars are becoming more and more mainstream. 

Few carmakers sell EVs in Ukraine, though the share of newly registered vehicles that are fully electric already stand at 9%. That’s almost the same as in the United States and nearly double that of Poland and the Czech Republic. Most of Ukraine’s refurbished electric cars are from North America, and a notable number of the vehicles arrive in the country with significant damage

Among those who have capitalized on this trend in Ukraine is Ivan Malakhovsky, whose five-year-old business in Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, currently fixes about 100 Teslas a month. From this number, about a fifth come from overseas. Malakhovsky is presently serving with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but he still participates in his business’ activities remotely as needed. He sometimes even makes software-mediated repairs over-the-air. 

“We have problems in our lives and can fix them, whether a battery or a full-scale invasion. Electric cars, electric car batteries—it’s no problem,” he said. He noted that sometimes, he and his co-workers would break up large EV batteries that had been damaged so they could repurpose the cells to power electric scooters. Some drones being used in the war effort are also from damaged electric cars

Ironically enough, the Russia-Ukraine war actually boosted Ukraine’s EV resurrection sector since it drove up gas prices. With gas prices at high levels, electric cars like Teslas have become attractive alternatives. “There is a joke here that all poor people are driving electric cars, and all the rich people are driving petrol cars. Tesla is a common-people, popular car because it’s very cheap in maintenance,” Malakhovsky said. 

The situation, however, could become quite confusing for the former owners of totaled Teslas. Max from Vancouver, for one, was surprised when Betty White, his totaled Model Y Performance, showed up in Uman, a town located in Ukraine’s Cherkasy Oblast. The vehicle was eventually resurrected and sold. In a comment to WIRED, Max noted that while his Model Y’s revival did cause some headaches since some of his online accounts were still with the vehicle, the car’s resurrection was really the best possible outcome. 

“I’m happy to see that Betty White has lived to see another day,” he said. 

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Dead Teslas are being resurrected in a thriving industry in Ukraine
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