Are maintenance costs higher or lower for an electric vehicle when compared to a gasoline-powered model?
This is a question that’s easy to answer, but if you’re trying to figure out which type of vehicle is more affordable overall, that’s a bit more complicated. Those who choose their EV models over the gasoline versions know the initial cost of an EV is higher, even if it comes with the Federal Tax Credit. That said, there’s much more to this story. The only way to directly compare is to use the exact vehicle in gas and electric form.
The Test Performed
Car and Driver put the comparison to the test with a pair of vehicles offered in both gas and electric versions. They use the Hyundai Kona and Kona Electric and the Mini Cooper Hardtop two-door and Mini Electric. There still might be some holes in the figures, but the overall results give you an idea of what you’ll find when comparing these two types of models. Some brands are going all-electric for the future, which won’t leave room for any such comparison when that happens.
How Much Will These Cars Cost Over the First Three Years
Using the cars from the test, we have to start with the base price as a form of the overall cost. This takes us away from the maintenance costs but gives us an idea of the price differential for these vehicles. The base price for each model tested is:
- Mini Cooper Hardtop -$24,250
- Mini Electric -$30,750
- Hyundai Kona -$21,440
- Hyundai Kona Electric -$38,330
From this information, we see that if the $7,500 Federal Tax Credit is applied, the electric Mini is a bit more affordable, but the Hyundai models still have a wide gap.
Using an average drive of 15,000 miles per year and the scheduled maintenance required for these vehicles, the numbers tell us a different story than the base price tale. Those numbers come to:
- Mini Cooper Hardtop -$3,839
- Mini Electric -$2,970
- Hyundai Kona -$4,091
- Hyundai Kona Electric -$2,970
You quickly see that maintaining an EV compared to its gas counterpart is much more affordable. These numbers widen as each model ages, creating an even more significant gap.
Wait a Minute
If you’re familiar with either Mini or Hyundai, you might already know that both brands offer three years/36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance. If you factor this in, you’re simply delaying the overall costs quoted to a later time and when the maintenance visit price is much higher because the mileage is much greater.
This one is a bit tricky. You can’t directly compare each model to its counterpart based on fuel mileage. The EV models don’t use gasoline. Even though Car and Driver do compare the energy costs per 100 miles, it doesn’t tell you much except how each gas model compares and the same for the two electric models. A better comparison is the overall costs based on similar data. Using a price per gallon of gas of $2.44 for regular and $3.11 for premium, the costs of gasoline over three years for the two gas models are:
- Mini Hardtop -$4,478 (uses premium fuel)
- Hyundai Kona -$3,623
The cost of electric charging isn’t as quickly determined as fuel costs. If an EV owner were only to charge their vehicle at home, they would typically pay much less than doing so at a charging station. Using public chargers can cost more, but some drives don’t have an at-home charger and need to use them. Also, some employers now have EV charging stations for their employees, further skewing the numbers. Giving it the best effort, the charging costs of these two tested models come out to:
- Mini Electric -$1,939
- Kona Electric -$1,723
During the 45,000 miles driven over three years, it’s pretty clear that charging an EV is much more affordable. So far, when you factor in maintenance costs, Federal Tax Credits, the bae price, and gas costs, the Mini Electric shows us significant savings, while the Kona Electric has closed the gap.
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