EVs are much cheaper to run than ICE cars

Study by US lab shows that electric cars are as much as 40 percent less costly to run than combustion-engine machines, with hybrids and PHEVs also offering cost savings

Illinois, USA –  A detailed analysis by one of the USA’s major science and engineering laboratories shows that electric cars (EVs) offer significant cost savings when it comes to maintenance, while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug in hybrids (PHEV) also offer lower running costs.

The Argonne National Laboratory has done an extremely detailed investigation – ‘Comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership Quantification for Vehicles with Different Size Classes and Powertrains’ – into the total cost of ownership for most car and truck types in the USA. It’s a 220+ page PDF, but well worth reading if you’re into stats and super-detailed dives into the cost of car ownership.

It found that fully-electric vehicles (EVs) delivered the lowest per-mile maintenance and repair costs over the average vehicle lifetime. For 150,000 miles (241,000km), the per-mile cost for a combustion vehicle was US$0.101, with a hybrid bringing that down to US$0.094, a PHEV slightly less at US$0.091, and a full EV at just US$0.061. 

“The results show that the reduction in maintenance cost per mile for HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs as compared to ICEVs were 7 percent,11 percent, and 41 percent, respectively,” quotes the study. The results quoted here are averaged out over multiple car models over each drivetrain type.

We’ve known that EVs could offer cost savings for consumers, but it’s always good to see this backed up by strong methodology and solid number crunching.

And in the long-er run, the cost savings increase :“The percent reduction in M&R cost per mile relative to ICEVs for PHEVs for 0 to 100,000 miles and 100,000 to 200,000 miles was 37 percent and 58 percent; for BEVs, the percent reduction was 55 percent and 46 percent, respectively.”

There’s a twist, though: With EVs, the super-long lifetime costs could increase with the replacement of the battery pack, and above 200,000 miles. But as battery tech gains eminence and economies of scale, we should see the cost of replacement batteries go down – the estimate is around 2025 onwards. 

While this study was carried out in the USA, there might be some complexity in interpreting it for Singapore, our take is: Drivetrain tech is the same anywhere in the world. In a nutshell, EVs, HEV, and PHEVs are all cheaper to run than gasoline cars – when it comes to maintenance and repair – in the long run. 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong