A recent Consumer Reports study reveals BEV and PHEV owners pay half as much as traditional ICE vehicles, and we examined where the savings came from.
When a consumer considers making a long-term purchase — a house, car or major appliance — one of the biggest sticking points can be maintenance and the associated repair costs. For big-ticket items consumers are not as familiar with, like an electric vehicle (EV), it might not be readily apparent how much maintenance will be required.
However, owners of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) pay half as much as traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. That’s the result of a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports (CR).
Let’s take a look at the study’s findings to see how much EV owners save compared to gas-powered cars. We’ll also examine why these savings arise and just how much maintenance EV owners have to account for each year.
What’s the Cost Difference for EVs?
CR gathered data from hundreds of thousands of its members in its 2019 and 2020 spring reliability surveys to get information on real-world maintenance and repair costs for all types of vehicles.
After a comprehensive analysis, CR found that BEVs required an estimated $0.031 on average for per-mile repairs and maintenance costs over the lifetime of the car. PHEVs required an estimated $0.030 on average over the car’s lifetime. Meanwhile, ICE vehicles required a whopping $0.61 on average over the car’s life.
Added up, the lifetime maintenance and repairs costs for both BEVs and PHEVs averages out to $4,600, while ICE vehicles average $9,200. This is a difference of $4,600 in savings for both BEVs and PHEVs.
The study used 200,000 miles to represent the normal service life of an automobile. On that basis, its analysis of total vehicle mileage had cost estimates divided into three categories: 0 to 50,000 miles, 50,000 to 100,000 miles and 100,000 to 200,000 miles. This allowed the study’s authors to get a more robust data set that could be averaged together for its final tally.
However, the study’s authors did note that there is a degree of uncertainty in their results due to the sampling size. All told, the authors admit that their projections might overestimate the long-term maintenance and repair costs associated with current-generation BEVs. As automakers continue to learn more from earlier models and implement new innovations based on those lessons, BEV technology should improve, which may lead to even lower maintenance and report costs.
What Kind of Maintenance Do EVs Require?
Just like any other regularly used piece of machinery, even electric vehicles need periodic maintenance and the occasional repair. However, compared to ICE cars, far less work is needed annually.
EVs do require a twice-a-year service check for the vehicle system and tire rotations. These help maintain optimal battery performance and the EV’s longevity.
EVs in operation for longer than 8 to 10 years and after the manufacturer warranty expires will probably also need a battery replacement at some point. A new battery can range from $5,000 to $10,000. However, many industry analysts anticipate battery prices to drop significantly in the next 10 years due to improving manufacturing production processes and technological innovations.
Where Do the Savings Come From?
EVs let owners save money on gas while reducing their carbon footprint, but they also have other savings built in.
The reduced lifetime maintenance and repair costs exist because EVs have a fraction of the moving parts of ICE vehicles. This means no oil changes, and no need for new spark plugs, catalytic converters or other emissions equipment. Of course, this is all on top of the savings from not having to buy gasoline on a regular basis.
Additionally, EVs use a regenerative braking system. This lets the car recover energy and store it back into the battery when the vehicle slows down. Not only does this boost efficiency, but it also reduces wear and tear on the mechanical braking system, which reduces the need for new ones over time.
As we can see, EVs are simply more cost-effective than gas-powered vehicles by a long shot. The same CR analysis found that “lifetime ownership costs for the most popular EVs on the market under $50,000 are typically $6,000 to $10,000 less than the best gas-powered vehicles in their class.”
Savings over the life of an EV compared to ICE vehicles can make a major difference for the owner, and isn’t something that should be overlooked.
Want to learn more about the big savings you get with driving an EV or how to set up and install a home-charging station? Reach out to the electromobility pros at Webasto today.