Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain in 2021

by John Girdle
Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

With the world moving to electric cars and with all the promise of electric vehicles saving the world, anyone concerned would surely be tempted to buy in the hopes of bringing a positive change to the environment.

It is certainly up for debate that if they are actually better for the environment or not, but they are surely the future.

So, are electric cars cheaper to maintain?

Based on the data collected, electric cars are cheaper to maintain on the long run as compared to their gasoline counterparts. Electric cars are primarily a one-time major investment and the type of fuel it runs on (electricity) is cheaper than gasoline making the overall maintenance lower than conventional gasoline cars. However, if you’re taking the manufacturing process into consideration then gasoline cars are cheaper on the whole.

I will now break it down for you and explain the costs of owning and maintaining an electric car to see if electric cars are in fact cheaper to maintain. My aim is to help you decide if its financially viable, better or worse for you compared to using a gasoline car.  

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain?

As the same with all forms of transportation, electric cars do require their regular maintenance and check-ups. Apart from the service of the car, recharging the batteries that run the car is another investment but it does not mean that as an investment it’s going to cost a lot to maintain an electric car.

Contrary to the belief of many, electric cars are rather cheaper to manage and maintain but are an expensive one-time investment. I am going to dive deep into how much it costs to own, use and maintain an electric car. I will also make a small comparison between the two later.

Let’s cover the upfront buying costs, fuel/electricity cost, and maintenance cost as all these are important factors to be taken into consideration when calculating if electric cars are cheaper to maintain.

Technology 

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

The technology is the reason there is a cost difference between electric cars and gasoline cars. We all know how much it costs to use and maintain a gasoline car.

The concept of electric cars is fairly new and we have been seeing them commercially available for a few years now. This makes the cost calculating process different because the technology is different.

Cost of Maintaining an Electric Car

Every car requires a form of maintenance, be it an engine work-up an oil change or just a top-up of fuel. This can result with you spending more than you’d anticipate and is what makes it dicey to own a gasoline car.

Electric cars on the other hand do not require the same type of maintenance that gasoline cars do and the source of fuel to power an electric car is obtained from our electricity grid so it’s cheaper to recharge your electric car than to top it off with fuel.

Here’s the complete break-up of what you’d be paying to maintain an electric car.

Higher Initial Investment 

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

Electric cars as I have said earlier is a new technology, they use electricity from their batteries to power their motors.

  • The manufacturing process is new and the money and time spent in Research and Development (R&D) are high. This drives the cost of buying a new electric car high.  
  • Then comes the battery, electric cars have huge high-density lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are hard to manufacture and drive up the cost significantly. The materials used in the batteries are rare and extracting them is hard. This is evident when buying the same model car with different technologies.  
  • Setting up in home charging might cost extra but it is a onetime investment and you can use it for other electric vehicles too. It can cost anywhere from $500-$900 for the home charging system and installing it can set you back by $500-$2000. On average it will cost around $2000 which leads to the higher initial investment of owning an electric car.  

All this makes electric cars cost more to buy than the average gasoline cars or their respective gasoline counterparts. 

Car Petrol VariantElectric Variant
Mini Cooper$24,250.00$30,750.00
Hyundai Kona$21,440.00$38,330.00

So, this shows that electric cars cost more to buy than the average gasoline cars or their respective gasoline counterparts. 

Cost of Fuel (In this case, Electricity)  

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

Electric cars run on electricity and need no fuel making them void of fuel charges. This means that during the lifetime, you have to worry only about taking a hit to your electricity bill and spoiler alert it’s not that big of a hit.  

  • Electric cars have batteries that you can charge at home with the help of included chargers. The batteries are rated with certain kWh and this determines the range of electric cars. The higher the kWh, the longer you can travel without needing to charge again. 

To calculate the electricity used and the cost of electricity we need to know the battery rating and range of the vehicle.

The Hyundai Kona uses 27kW of energy for every 100 miles, while Mini electric uses 31 kWh of energy for every 100 miles.

Electricity costs vary from region to region and this makes it hard to calculate. But taking an average and working with it gives these costs for 45,000 miles. 

Car Electric Variant
Mini Cooper$1939.00
Hyundai Kona$1723.00

This is cheaper than their gasoline counterparts because electricity is cheaper almost everywhere.  

Lower maintenance charges 

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

Using any vehicle calls for maintenance from time to time. This is because of the moving parts in them and these are subject to wear and tear over time. Electric vehicles have only two moving parts, the motor and the wheels. This makes it easy to maintain them, and there is also no use of oils to help the car run efficiently. The fewer the number of moving parts, the lower the chance of failure of any such parts. 

  • The technology of electric cars is simple compared to the ones found in gasoline cars. This simpler technology aids in lower maintenance and making the overall cost lower.
  • In an effort to help people switch to electric cars, manufacturers offer benefits like free maintenance for the first 3 years or first 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. This reduces the overall cost of an electric car over its lifetime. But ignoring the free maintenance, electric cars like Hyundai Kona and Mini Electric cost $2,970 for every 45,000 miles.   
Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain
  • When compared to their direct gasoline counterparts, they are cheaper. The Mini (gasoline) requires $3,839 of maintenance while the Hyundai Kona (gasoline) will set you back by $4,091 for maintenance over 45,000 miles. 
  • There is one another maintenance cost for electric cars and this is the battery, it’s all about the battery for an electric car. Over time, a battery loses its capacity due to degradation. This means you’ll have to replace the battery down the line if you are planning to use it for beyond the manufacturer’s warranty or lifetime range. 
  • Manufacturers offer 8 to 10 years of warranty or 1,00,000 to 1,50,000 miles, but if you are planning to use beyond that, you will have to replace your existing one. This can set you back by $4,500 in the case of a Nissan Leaf. But the savings you get from other maintenance charges can easily cover up for this. 

Electric Cars Tax Credits 

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Maintain

To catalyze the process of electric car adoption, the government offers incentives to owners. This comes as tax credits to the owners. 

Electric car owners are titled to $7500 in tax credits and this reduces the total cost by $7500 which is not a small amount.  

Comparison between electric cars and gasoline cars

Electric CarsGasoline Cars
Upfront Purchase CostHigher for electric cars due to manufacturing process and use of huge batteries.Significantly lower than similarly performing electric cars due to maturity in technology.
Maintenance CostLower than gasoline powered cars, due to simpler technology.Higher due the use of lots of moving parts.
Fuel/Electricity ChargesElectric cars cost less because electricity is cheaper than fuel.Gasoline cars tend to cost more for the same amount of distance traveled.
Tax Credits$7500 tax credit bringing down the total cost of electric cars.No tax credits for gasoline cars.
OverallElectric cars tend to be costlier over the 3-year period.Gasoline cars though not so environmentally friendly are cheaper to buy and this is still a factor influencing purchases.

You can also use this tool from the US Department of Energy to compare different vehicles. They can compare based on their initial price, cost of use, carbon footprint and overall cost of the vehicle year on year. It is effective and helps you get a better picture of which car you should choose based on cost and carbon footprint. Remember both cost and carbon footprint being lower will make your wallet happy and in turn the environment safer. 

Conclusion 

Electric cars are cheaper over time in some cases and in some they are not, it all comes down to the model and region. For now, gasoline vehicles are generally the cheaper of the two. This is due to the mature manufacturing process and the battery found in electric cars. When it comes to running and maintaining, electric cars trump gasoline cars. It is because electricity is cheaper and electric cars require less maintenance. 

The cost of battery manufacturing is coming down and this can only be good for the future of electric cars. Better and a more mature manufacturing process combined with cheaper batteries will bring down the cost of electric cars. The future is bright for electric cars and that future is just a few years away. 

While they are little on the costlier side of things now, the fact that they are environmentally friendly cannot be ignored. It is a small price to pay if you are concerned about the environment. Buying a gasoline car is sensible for now if the cost is of utmost importance, but this can change soon in the near future.  

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