Electric Car Maintenance A Third Cheaper Than Combustion Vehicles?

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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Driving an electric car has plenty of advantages, but many owners also like the simplicity of their vehicles.

An electric motor is incredibly simple in operation. In contrast, internal combustion engines can be made up of hundreds of parts--even thousands, in particularly advanced engines.

That's why it's perhaps unsurprising to hear that new research suggests electric cars could cost 35 percent less to maintain than their combustion counterparts (via TheGreenCarWebsite).

A study conducted at the Institute for Automotive Research (IFA) at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University in southern Germany, concluded that an EV's simplicity pays dividends over longer ownership periods.

While the initial cost of electric cars is still high, they're not only cheaper to "fuel", but are expected to chew through consumable items much more slowly.

The study found that over eight years, with a relatively low annual mileage of 5,000 miles per year, a typical small, combustion-engined car would cost 3,650 Euros, or $4,770 in maintenance.

That includes typical maintenance like oil changes, brakes, tires, spark plugs, filters and more.

In contrast, an equivalent electric vehicle would cost only 2,350 Euros--$3,071.

Not only do electric vehicles lack many of the components found on internal combustion vehicles, but remaining consumables like brakes tend to last longer--something even drivers of more conventional hybrid vehicles are finding.

It's an aspect even the carmakers themselves are pushing as a big advantage--Ford compiled a list of all the parts its Focus Electric doesn't have, showing just how little maintenance the car needs.

The figures will naturally vary depending on the cars being compared, and the research doesn't take into account the cost of replacing battery packs, when they eventually wear out.

Even so, it still points towards EVs being considerably cheaper to run--particularly for the first owner, who may not have to worry about the car's long-term costs.

If you drive an electric car, how are you finding maintenance costs compared to your previous vehicle? Leave us your thoughts below.


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Comments (16)
  1. Modern gasoline cars are really amazingly reliable. Yes my Prius has had the annoyance of oil change every 5,000 miles, but the only ICE item "scheduled" to be replaced is the spark plugs at 150,000 miles. Pretty impressive.
    We have 90,000 miles on it and have not had any issues.

  2. I also own a Prius and my experience has been similar to yours. However, there are all kinds of really scary things that COULD happen, and 90,000 miles of swallows don't make a summer, or something. ;-)

  3. You would "need" to change engine air filter every 1 to 2 years...

    You would "need" to change your fuel filters every 100k miles at least.

    You would require to do "emission testing" every 2 years in CA for cars older than 4 years.

    None of those are needed in EVs.

  4. As a current LEAF owner, trading in my already outstanding and highly reliable Subaru Forester, I went from the 26combined MPG 4Cyl and $60 per week in gas to $70 A Month in Electricity. I do drive 70miles RT commute per day, And is ABOVE average for any normal commuter. I have already saved over $400 in fuel over the past few months...maybe more. We do tend to drive more on electric than we ever did on the ICE vehicle. The family car is still a FX35, however all trips possible (90%) are made on electric making the savings even greater. Besides the yearly battery checks, tires and brakes are the only maintenance items. :) HAPPY EV'ing

  5. I also drive my LEAF close to the limit on my daily commute. After nine months I have had to spend exactly $0 and ¢0 on maintenance.

  6. That is "obvious".
    However, if we plan to keep a car for over 15 years and 200k miles, then the concern of the battery on current generation of EVs would have to be considered.
    But I still love the fact that I don't have to visit the dirty gas pumps as often as ICE cars...

  7. 1 year and over 15000 miles and my total maintenance on my LEAF so far is $24.95 for a tire rotation (my second tire rotation was "free" because of the Nissan "one for one" loyalty program. I'm planning on replacing the cabin air filter myself for $13.95. Granted, I think all new cars are fairly maintenance free (although in a previous car I had already replaced 2 O2 sensors for a total of $300 by this point--and that was just the start, I replaced 9 in 8 years). But at a minimum I've saved about $150 in oil changes.

  8. But how much does it cost to replace the battery when it wear out after ten years? I don't have to change my gas tank... ever, and those batteries are insanely expensive

  9. At todays prices it will cost less than the savings in fuel made over the years. It will also have 80% of its capacity left and hence it will have a residual value in the storage of electricity. There is no reason to stop using it when it reaches 80% capacity. If 50% capacity is all you need there is no reason to replace the battery for say 20 years!

  10. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Filling your gas tank is an example of this. Insane is using 15 -20% of the energy potential in a fuel to get where you need to go, allowing the other 80+% go toward heat production. An EV going downhill can be 101% efficient because it can create energy to fuel it. Now that is sanity.

  11. Do you generally keep cars 10 years? I know I never do, so will you really have to worry about what will happen in 10 years? The cost of batteries has already come down and will continue to do so. Just a timing belt in a normal car can cost $800-$1000 and that's if you don't need a water pump.

  12. A number of people I know keep their cars for 10 years or more. I once kept a car for over 12 years. My parents still have a Mini which they have had for over 29 years. Last year, my dad was waiting for the Fiat 500 Electric (which never got released to the public), hence held off on upgrading. For a small city run about, there is no value for people like my parents to buy a new gas car.

  13. There are more comments in this thread
  14. One problem that EV's have right now is that the people that want them most - those that drive long commutes - can't really use them. Why is a start up(Tesla) able to solve this issue, and major car companies can't? Heavier cars (EV's)wear out tires faster than lighter vehicles. Right now that is an issue that could be improved. With the incredible torque the EV has the average driver will also add to that wear by doing jack rabbit starts - something that can actually be an efficient use of energy in an EV, if you don't consider the tire wear issue. In my Nissan Leaf, I am coming up on 25,000 miles and 21 months of primarily city and mountain driving. I expect I will need tires soon. All of the maintenance has been tire based so far.

  15. Brake life - I have a Tahoe Hybrid for hauling kids. 221,000 kms, still original set of brakes!

  16. I do oil changes myself using full synthetic oil every 5000 miles. After I started driving my converted electric MR2 two years ago, I am definitely saving more money on maintenance, mostly due to saving on oil changes. For me, the savings are more like 58%.



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