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  • 02.08.11

EV, Ew! Your Electric Car Is a Rat’s Nest

Re-VOLT-ing news: Rodents can’t resist getting warm and cozy under the hoods of electric cars.

Chevy Volt

Electric vehicles: good for the environment and the rats hiding in your garage? EV battery packs may be ultra-attractive to rodents, if a report from Joe Wiesenfelder at Cars.com is to be believed. A rat chomped through wiring in the engine compartment of his Chevy Volt, triggering warning lights and rear defogger problems–and it could happen to you.

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The problem is that electric cars stay plugged into wall sockets for hours while they charge. The batteries stay warm (read: at a rodent-friendly temperature) the entire time that they juice up. Green Car Reports explains:

All electric vehicles “condition” their battery packs to stay at the
right temperature while recharging. It may mean using some of the wall
current to warm the pack, or to operate fans to keep the pack cool in
cars with air-cooled packs like the 2011 Nissan Leaf. In vehicles with liquid-cooled packs, like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, wall current may go toward operating the pumps that circulate the coolant.

In the end, Wiesenfelder’s pesky rat caused $600 worth of damage. None of it was covered by the Volt’s warranty since rats are considered an “act of nature.” Perhaps EV owners need to start making rat-trap perimeters around their vehicles while they charge. But ideally, manufacturers should think of a solution, and soon.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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