- Depreciation (if you are buying outright – either new or used).
- Fuel (charging)
- Vehicle tax
- Other EV-specific costs
This is by far the biggest cost of running a car. The good news for EV owners is that media predictions of horrendous depreciation have generally been wrong!
e.g. AutoExpress, Jan 2018 “electric cars have poor depreciation that will soon see their used price fall below the cost of battery replacement.”
It’s true to say there has been some past depreciation – for example if you bought a new EV in 2013 you will have incurred some losses. But with the amount of negative publicity around diesel vehicles and increased awareness of EVs the market has completely changed.
Some canny EV buyers have broken even or even made a profit!
So let’s have a look at the math(s) using a real car purchase (Nissan Leaf 24kWh 2014 model). In 2016 paid £9,500 after various rebates and deals – for a 2 year old vehicle with less than 10,000 miles. And it’s true it did drop in value in the year after – so in 2017 the value was around £8,000. But the value in 2019 was….£9,500. Yes that’s 3 years motoring @ zero depreciation! 🙂
There were some anecdotal examples of where people have bought an EV in 2017, put 10,000 miles on it and sold it a year later for more than they paid for it.
In 2021 you can expect a pure EV to depreciate less than any other type of vehicle. We predict PHEV depreciation will be higher once used buyers understand the increased complexity and maintenance costs of these vehicles. Buying a diesel is now highly risky with uncertain future used values.
As a rule you can expect the cost of fuel per mile to be roughly 1/4 – 1/5 of the cost of a diesel or gas/petrol car. This depends on where you charge and the cost per unit of the electricity. If you charge at home the unit cost will usually be less than a public charger where you may have to pay a flat-rate ‘per charge’ fee plus a higher unit cost.
See our page How much does it cost to charge an electric car? for more detail
Maintenance / servicing costs for an EV are lower than for a petrol/gas car. Typically you can expect your servicing costs to be reduced by around 1/3. This is because there are far fewer moving parts (about 20 versus 2000 for a combustion engine) which means less to go wrong. Also there are no fluid replacements (engine and gearbox oil) needed.
Brakes wear out more slowly as the electric motor uses regeneration to slow the car some of the time. Items like a/c require the same maintenance but this is fairly uncommon and tends to be a ‘fix when it is broken’ item.
MOT (UK annual roadworthy test) is the same.
Insurance (in the UK) for electric cars in our experience is approximately the same or slightly higher than for petrol or diesel cars. This is due to the higher repair costs but this should reduce over time.
It will vary however depending on driver record, area etc and insurance companies claims for these type of vehicles. We’ve never had any difficulty in getting cover.
UK specific content
VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) is a tax based on the pollution of a vehicle. It’s often incorrectly called ‘road tax’ (which it isn’t as it doesn’t pay for the roads..)
Rates from April 2021 (per year)
EV (zero emissions) – £0
PHEV – £varies depending on emissions band
There is a one-off charge of £320 for new cars costing over £40,000 which applies to all vehicles.
Consumable items such as tyres/tires typically wear out slower than when on a combustion engine car. This is due to the regeneration effects (which is also present on PHEVs and standard Hybrid cars).
Other items such as wipers and washer fluid are exactly the same.
There are some other costs which you need to factor in.
Battery. With some manufacturers you can buy the battery outright or// you can lease the battery. e.g. Nissan call this ‘Flex’. But with Renault you can only lease the battery – with this you’ll pay a monthly rental cost between £49-£99. Check before you commit!
Public charging points. Many commercial schemes have a small one-off joining or annual cost. Some charging points also have a flat-rate ‘per charge’ cost. Again these vary so check before you sign up.
Home charging point. This will have a one-off installation cost (in the UK this is currently subsidised by Government grants). We paid £99 (approx $125) for ours. There is no running or maintenance cost with a home charge point – you just pay for the electricity units you use.