Everyone knows – or believes, anyway – that electric vehicles are good for the wallet. Still, there’s lots of argument about their overall practicality and the cost of installing chargers, among other things. Now we can say for sure that EVs cost less to maintain, thanks to a study by the U.S. government.
What makes an EV cheaper to maintain?
You’re probably already familiar with how much goes into maintaining a gas powered car. There are roughly a zillion parts (disclaimer: not an accurate number) of parts, and they all do complicated things. As car technology has evolved to include more and more computers, maintaining a gas powered vehicle is much more difficult. It’s also more expensive than ever before.
Cue the emergence of electric vehicles. At first they were a novelty – cars without gas! Yet they’ve become more and more common. As the number of electric vehicles on the road increases, what do we know about their maintenance? Is an EV cheaper to maintain?
The answer is yes. Although electric vehicle advocates have been saying this for years, we finally have evidence. The U.S. government, which has more electric vehicles than any other organization in the world, conducted a study to determine the cost of operating various types of vehicles.
What did the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy find?
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy tested and tracked everything they own, from electric vehicles to postal trucks to large trucks. Their findings said that a “light-duty battery-electric vehicle (BEV) totals 6.1 cents per mile, while a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) totals 10.1 cents per mile.” They also note that “A BEV lacks an ICEV’s engine oil, timing belt, oxygen sensor, spark plugs and more, and the maintenance costs associated with them.”
These costs include operating costs, vehicle maintenance and depreciation, fuel and insurance, among other things. The study says that maintenance costs are less because there are fewer parts in an electric vehicle than there are in a traditional combustion engine. These costs were relative to the vehicle’s cost, and maintained their rate across vehicle sizes.
What is expensive about electric vehicle maintenance?
One of the most expensive parts about electric vehicles, or at least the electric vehicles the government owns and operates, are charging costs. The study notes that there are labor costs associated with charging a vast fleet of electric vehicles, and this makes up a large portion of the total cost of owning the EVs. Obviously individual EV owners wouldn’t have these types of costs associated with them.
Motor Trend looked at this data and realized that many people reading at it might think four cents per mile is no big deal. Every hundred miles a vehicle drives adds on just $4 to the cost of the vehicle. So Motor Trend did some additional math.
Those light duty vehicles mentioned in the study drove 2 billion miles in 2019. Add up those billions of miles and you’ll see that the government spent $78 million more than they would have if those same vehicles were electric.
What can we learn from the U.S. government’s study? Electric vehicles can save the U.S. billions of dollars. Even if they weren’t so environmentally friendly, it seems like replacing gas powered vehicles with electric vehicles when possible is an obvious choice.