Study: Electrics 35% Less Costly to Maintain than Comparable Gas Vehicles

By · December 18, 2012

Nissan LEAF

According to the study, electric vehicles cost approximately 35 percent less to maintain than comparable ICE automobiles.

The Institute for Automobile Economics (IFA) evaluated research conducted by the Germany's University for Economics and Environment to determine the average cost to maintain today's electric vehicles. According to the IFA, electric vehicles partially compensate for high initial purchase prices by granting owners savings up to 35 percent in maintenance costs.

The IFA said that vehicles fueled with gasoline or diesel typically require more routine maintenance than electric vehicles require. The 35-percent reduction in maintenance costs was determined by evaluating eight-year-old compact vehicles. According to the IFA, the cost to maintain a modern-day electric vehicle is significantly less because EVs require fewer fluids and moving mechanical parts. Brake wear on electric vehicles is reduced, oil changes don't occur, clutches usually don't exist, and exhaust systems are not required.

Critics raised concerns with the study. They say it was based on eight years of driving, prior to a potential need to replace batteries. Even though battery replacements are likely to occur on very few EVs, a longer period of evaluation could raise average costs. Conversely, the study assumed only 5,000 miles of driving per year, well below average distances traveled by American drivers. More vehicles traveled would potentially increase the benefits of electric vehicles in terms of lower maintenance costs.

Given the study's assumptions, researchers said total savings would come to about $1,700. Critics would also argue that these saving are likely to only partially compensate EV owners for higher upfront costs, even when considering the lower cost of using electricity as fuel. Electric car owners, by and large, would object to these simplified economic comparisons, considering an EV's quicker acceleration, time savings (from home refueling), luxury features, and environmental benefits.


· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago

The elephant in the room is battery replacement cost. Even if you don't keep the car more than three years, the resale will be affected by BATTERY REPLACEMENT COST. Until/unless the super batteries that everyone is hoping for materialize, the solution for affordable EV's is small, efficient vehicles. Will there be a market, and who will have the nerve to build one?

· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

Well, it is nice that someone put a number on it.

· Ernie (not verified) · 5 years ago

We're still waiting for actual numbers on this, because there aren't any production electrics older than 2 years (discounting Tesla Roadsters) anyway.

But my experience with rechargable batteries says that say, the Leaf's ability to replace individual cells is going to mean that "battery replacement cost" is going to be way less than the gargantuan amount that bedwetters think it is. Whole packs don't fail in laptop batteries either. The failure of one cell means that the whole rest of the pack doesn't work properly, and the Leaf's onboard computer can tell you which cells need replacing, and when.

· · 5 years ago

@Ernie: I sure hope you're right. As someone who's held onto the same gasoline car for 21 years ('92 Acura Integra), and who's likely to hold on to a plug-in for at least 12-15 (don't have one yet), it sure would be nice if battery replacement costs are much lower than expected. I actually find folks who ignore these costs (not talking about you) irritating, as they come across as highly privileged car owners with lots of money who seemingly can afford to buy a new car every 5-8 years, or before the time that an original battery pack is likely to tank. I believe more than half of cars on U.S. roads are more than 10 years old now, so those that plunk down money for a new car every 5 years, or who opt for eternal monthly car payments by hopping from one car lease to another are not the norm.

· · 5 years ago


Not sure how you can say what you are saying. I've used the phrase "bedwetters" before myself on something that was quite obvious. Here, excuse me, it makes no sense.

1). Are you saying batteries don't "AGE" ?? !!
2). Are you saying batteries don't cost a substantial amount of money?
3). Are you fully trusting in the computer diagnostic system to tell you exactly what is wrong?

Replacing one cell when the rest of them are about to go anyway is just asking for trouble. I wish you well, but please don't come crying if the unexpected (to you) happens.

· · 5 years ago

Sarah Silverman was a bedwetter and she's the funniest woman on Earth, IMO. But seriously...

I'm glad someone has done the research and has come up with a number (35% less) because I like to tell people about the advantages of EVs but I don't like to oversell anything.

In eight years battery costs will be significantly lower. How much lower? Nobody knows for sure but it's very likely that batteries will not only be cheaper they will also have much more capacity and be much more reliable. Would it not be great to replace an entire battery pack for less money than a down payment on a new car AND double the range AND having a battery pack that would last another 12 years?

· Lynn (not verified) · 5 years ago

There are plenty of production electric cars more than 2 years old. Chevrolet S10 EV, Ford Ranger EV, Tesla Roadster, Think City, and Toyota RAV4 EV, among many others.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Battery life span is 8-10 years

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I think the concerns about battery replacement costs, while valid, ignore that 8 years from now you will be able to buy a much cheaper battery for far greater range.

You will essentially get a much better newer car for the price of the battery.

· Objective (not verified) · 5 years ago

Warren... I've got the nerve to build one. I'm building it now, in my garage. It will be at least two orders of magnitude more efficient than any current gas or electric car. It will consume more than 5 MWhrs of energy and travel more than 2.6 million miles before it's energy storage components need to be replaced. THAT's an improvement. These overpriced, overhyped, publicly funded glorified golf carts being sold as cars today will rest in the rust pile of history in the not too distant future.

· · 5 years ago

I have not spent a dime on my Leaf for maintenance other than rotating tires and washing it. 1 1/4 years and going.

Let me present another side. I was given an ICE to drive recently for a few days. Guess what I had to pull over to buy petrol. When I did I had to wait and then spend MONEY. The car was noisey, slow, and jerky when shifting gears. These ICE's s*ck. I wanted my nice quiet, smooth, low maintenance and no gas Leaf back.

· · 5 years ago

You know what? An ICE car has a very expensive transmission and/or clutch - and the engine itself would be very expensive to replace, if you drive it far enough. You might have to replace the exhaust system or the cooling system.

The *regular* maintenance of an ICE car will cost you about $3,000 every 90K miles - that is about 3.3¢ / mile. The *regular* maintenance on an EV is virtually nil.

So I would say that an EV saves about 98% on maintenance vs an ICE. The energy cost for an EV is about 3¢ / mile (LESS that the maintenance costs ALONE on the ICE!) while the energy costs of an ICE are about 15¢ / mile.

Total costs for driving an ICE 18.3¢ / mile vs 3¢ / mile - that is over 5X more costly.

In just 90K miles you will SAVE $13,770 - I think that will easily cover any battery costs? And I think that most EV batteries will last at least twice as long as that.


· Nick F (not verified) · 5 years ago

Everyone would have solar panels on their roof if they were prepared to pay a large upfront cost and then recoup the money back over X years.

Not every one can afford to do that / will think to do that / has the psychological make-up to be happy doing that.

When the cost of owning an electric car is less over a period of n years then people will do it. I think n is more like 3-5 years and it's closer to 3 because not that many people have any disposable income.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I live in a community in FL where you can go everywhere via golf cart. Miy Club Car cart has 4- 12 volt batteries which replacement cost was just $800 and I was told to expect that every 3 to 4 years. I get about 40 miles between charges but I understand that there is a curve where the first 50 charges builds up to full capacity and afterwards it declines. I love the elec. it drives smooth and is's just a shame with all the technology we have we cannot do better than this for mileage and replacement times. My car is parked in my garage most of the time and there is such a savings on gas - which here is about $3.44 a gallon.

· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago


My neighbor uses 60 miles of the 72 mile range on her Leaf every day. She was smart enough to lease it, because after 5 years, she would not be able to go to work safely.

· · 5 years ago

My sister-in-law drives a Leaf, and she regularly sees 100 miles or more on the readout. And she pays less than 3¢ / mile - no gas since the beginning of this year.

They are paying ~$1,400 down payment on 26 PV panels (out of the savings on gas) and their electric bill will drop to $58 / month from $80-$170 / month they currently pay. That includes charging TWO EV's (my brother drives and i MiEV) and A/C in the summer.

They are cutting their electric bill about in half, so they are essentially driving for free. But even if you pay 12¢ / kWh, you are driving for less that the *maintenance* costs on a gasoline burning car.


· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago


My neighbor lives 27 miles from her job, and does her errands while in that town full of 10% grades, and must either drive on interstate, with a 75 mph speed limit, and lots of single digit grades, or drive two lane, 55 mph roads with 8-10% grades. She never sees anything like 100 mile range here. Again, if she owned this car, it would be useless to her in five years. She realized its shortcomings when she leased it. But wanted to experience an electric car before she retired, and could no longer justify the expense of a new car.

· Warren (not verified) · 5 years ago

OK. Reality bites. The new normal means we now get little precipitation, high temperatures, and gale force winds. So last night we got an inch of rain, the most we've had at one time in many months. The wind roared. The trees, stressed by lack of water, heat, and new insects moving north, blew over. At 12:20 am the power went out, and didn't return until 5:20 am.

Unfortunately, this is precisely the time my neighbor's Leaf is set to charge. So instead of the Leaf getting charged up, it sucked their PV backup batteries flat. She drove the Infiniti to work.

Lesson: The charger circuit is one that shouldn't be hooked to your backup power.

· · 5 years ago


· smithjim1961 · 2 weeks ago

".....Sarah Silverman was a bedwetter and she's the funniest woman on Earth

'Toilet mouth' Silverman also blasphemes Jesus Christ, makes fun of having Sex with Almighty God, elsewhere she says she's glad Christ

"was crucified, And I'd do it again given a F***ing chance".

I hope your typical Californian doesn't feel this way.

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