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The true costs of owning an electric car

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This story is part of connectedCNET’s center for all things electric and the future of electric mobility. From car reviews to helpful tips and the latest industry news, we’ve got you covered.

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While it costs up to $100 to fill up your tank, but less than $10 to charge an electric car, buying an EV might seem like an obvious choice. But the economics of electric vehicles is complex and you must be aware of many unfamiliar factors before you can commit to oil companies.

Buying a new car

To drive an EV on you He buys EV, Often expensive show. Even after selling or trading your current conventional vehicle, you could easily be in the hole for $10,000 or more. It will take several years to break even, like my colleague at CNET Cars Craig Cole calculates hereEven if we assume that you buy a very cheap electric car, live in a place with cheap electricity and always charge it at home. That’s a lot of “ifs” to make buying a new electric car great economical.

This isn’t a new concern: I can’t count how many people I know have bought a hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle at a net cost much higher than they could possibly save on fuel. A friend insisted he trade his Porsche Cayenne for a Cayenne Hybrid, even after realizing that it would take 111 years to break even.

2018 Tesla Model 3 parked across a country road with a wind farm in the background

It’s ignited the electric car market, but the Tesla Model 3 starts at $47,000, up $10,000 from just last year. Average transaction prices are closer to $60,000.

Tim Stevens/CNET

A pure electric car will certainly save you a lot more energy than the Cayenne Hybrid example, but the initial purchase price of an electric car and The insurance may be higher And High repair costs It can ease the severity of their economies. On the other hand, conventional cars have a series of maintenance costs that electric vehicles do not bear, such as changing fluids and increasing the frequency of brake service.

Many people buy an electric car to conserve the environment in addition to the money, a noble motive that reinvest them through fuel savings and environmental profits. It’s beyond the scope of this article, but think about your overall environmental return on investment and ask yourself if there’s a more efficient way to distribute the net money you spend on an electric car: Installing rooftop solar systems or build out a First class enlargement room To exclude most business air travel, there are some examples that can be taken into account Using a good carbon footprint calculator.

severe depreciation

Depreciation is the “other price” for any car you buy, and most importantly a consideration for when that car is electric. The value of any new or late model car goes down like a stone’s throw, creating a significant cost-per-mile which is often worse for electric vehicles due to their usually higher price tag and often higher consumption.

For example, Subaru, which is not famous for its electrified cars, has an average resale value of 66% of its new price after five years, According to Car Edge. In a new $35,000 Subaru, this depreciation would cost about $11,500 over the first five years, or $6.30 per day. To use a worn metaphor, this is a latte for you and a friend, seven days a week.

Compare that to Tesla, which Car Edge projects will retain 58% of its value after five years (making it No. 3 among luxury brands, according to Car Edge), and it does so from a higher average price. If you buy a $60,000 Tesla Model 3, you’ll incur $25,000 in depreciation over the first five years, or $13.80 per day — as your purchase and three Latte friends every day. Part of the pain is due to the fact that Tesla has been so successful in selling electric cars as its own Long ago I stopped qualifying for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Tesla Model 3 battery

The core of an electric car is its battery pack, which is similar to the central value of the engine in a conventional car. Unlike modern car engines, batteries for electric vehicles offer the possibility of replacement during the service life of the car.

Tesla

Battery replacement

Ultimate battery replacement is an important form of depreciation unique to electric vehicles. Unlike modern conventional cars where engine replacement is not likely, an electric vehicle’s battery position is more likely to be replaced as the vehicle ages and offers unsatisfactory range. Battery replacement cost is very variable, but $10,000 is a fair average estimate.

However, this cost remains a blur because few electric vehicles have been on the road long enough to significantly reduce the battery pack, and there has not been enough time to develop the vibrant and competitive battery replacement market. It’s also hard to predict that a particular electric car owner will bear the cost of replacing the battery, and while that cost should already be factored into depreciation, I’m not sure the market is mature enough to rely on that. If you buy a late model of electric vehicle, know that you may be the one carrying the bag when its range drops to a level that you or the next buyer may consider insufficient, resulting in an expense or loss in value eroding the overall economy of driving an electric.

However, there is a good solution to this battery replacement concern: reality. See my opinion why You may not need anywhere near the range you think you do.

Buying electricity is not easy

The cost of electricity varies much more than the cost of gasoline, depending on where you live, the rate plan you use, when to charge, and whether you do it at home or on a commercial public charger.

In California, we pay an average of 18 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential electricity, but in Idaho we pay 8 cents and in Hawaii 28 cents, according to US Energy Information Administration. That disparity would be like paying $5 a gallon for gasoline in California, $2.50 a gallon in Idaho, and $8 a gallon in Hawaii, which is a much larger variance than what we see at the pump. and the cost of electricity is not clearly described where it is distributed, Rather buried in a quagmire of tariffs and times of day.

You can turn to the Environmental Protection Agency Fueleconomy.gov To compare cost between cars, gas or electric. face to face Comparison of the BMW 330i xDrive and the Tesla Model 3 Long Range It sets a stark difference in energy costs that makes Tesla look like an absolute cost-effective machine.

BMW 330i fuel cost vs Tesla Model 3

If only this was simple.

EPA/Screenshot by Brian Cooley/CNET

But the Study 2021 by Anderson Economics Group (PDF) It concludes that driving an electric vehicle can cost significantly more than driving a conventional vehicle. It’s a controversial conclusion, but not at all baseless, although its assumptions include a lot of charging in commercial locations, not at home, and that you’re getting a healthy salary that should be counted as lost value while waiting for your car. Cost. For those charging at home, the story is more rosy, but Anderson wisely amortizes the roughly $2,000 cost of a Level 2 charger, which is what most electric vehicle owners want.

Anderson Group Report on the Cost of Electric Vehicles

Making the worst case of owning an electric car can lead to numbers showing that it costs more than a gas-powered car.

Anderson Research Group

To answer the question we started with, is an electric vehicle either costing less, the same, or more to run than a gas-powered vehicle. While this isn’t a very satisfactory answer, EV will likely reduce the true cost of getting around, albeit not overnight. I think the switch to electric vehicles is inevitable for a variety of technological, political and financial reasons, but you have to worry about how electric vehicles are going to use you, not us.

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