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.

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