Compared to buying or leasing a gas-powered vehicle, the cost of buying or leasing an electric vehicle (EV) can seem quite high at first glance. But as with most differences between gas-powered vehicles and EVs, the more you explore the cost of owning an EV, the more it makes sense.
Gas-powered vehicles do seem to be better value at purchase, but their long-term fuel and maintenance costs can mount up quickly.
Meanwhile, EVs might be more expensive to buy or lease, but the cost of charging them is a tiny fraction of the cost of gas for an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. And with far fewer mechanical parts, they also require a lot less maintenance.
Let's look at these three areas to see how an EV could not only help save the planet, but also save you money.
Buying an EV might not be as expensive as you think
While the price of gas-powered vehicles seems to go up every year, the intense competition between EV manufacturers means that there's a wider choice of lower-priced vehicles than ever before. And it's going to get even better over the next few years.
Plus, as you're calculating the up-front purchase price of a new EV or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), make sure you factor in the provincial and federal rebates currently available. Combined, these can bring your purchase price down considerably:
- Find out about the Government of B.C.'s Clean Energy Vehicles for British Columbia (CEV) incentive program.
- Find out about Transport Canada's Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEV) incentive program.
In addition to these incentives, you may be eligible for SCRAP-IT, a B.C. program that offers incentives to scrap high-polluting vehicles when you buy a new or used EV – or other type of low-carbon transportation.
Comparing fuel costs
Fuel costs are the most obvious way an EV can save you money over a gas-powered vehicle.
Here's a fuel cost comparison to give you an idea. How much does it roughly cost to drive 20,000 kilometres a year?
- In a Nissan Leaf: around $490 (or $41/month) on electricity.
- In an equivalent gas-powered vehicle: around $1,880 (or $157/month) on gas.
You can find and compare figures for specific vehicles using our fuel savings calculator but to give you a quick idea, here are comparisons for four different commutes into downtown Vancouver:
Electricity costs per year (2019 Nissan Leaf S)
Gas costs per year (2019 Chevy Spark 1LT)
EV maintenance is a lot cheaper than you might think
There's another way an EV can also save you a lot of money: maintenance.
If you calculate what you've spent on vehicle maintenance in the past five years, including major repairs or replacement parts, along with preventative maintenance such as oil changes, you'll find it adds up fast.
Some estimates indicate that average maintenance costs for a vehicle can be around $100/month – and these costs typically climb as your vehicle ages.
Even though it has far fewer mechanical parts, you’ll still have to maintain an EV. But many components can last much longer before requiring maintenance. For instance, the brakes in an EV could last over 300,000 km, as most EV braking is regenerative. This means that instead of using the brakes, the electric motor slows down the vehicle, capturing that energy and using it to recharge the battery.
There's also the biggest potential replacement item on an EV: the battery pack. The cost of a new battery varies by model and manufacturer, but most EVs come with between 5 and 8 years' or a 160,000 km powertrain warranty as standard.
A replacement battery can be expensive, but unlike the frequent costs of maintaining a gas-powered vehicle, there's every possibility your battery could require no maintenance during your ownership period. Some long-term EV owners claim that their only maintenance costs have been windscreen washer fluid and new tires.
So don't be put off by that higher EV purchase price. Take a few minutes to run the long term numbers and see how much you might save. And if you're still not sure, find out what other EV owners have to say.