Despite tax incentives and local discounts, electric vehicles cost considerably more than the average fuel-saving car in the US. However, when the total cost of lifecycle ownership is compared to that of ICEs, it is found that savings on fuel costs alone become quite significant over the years. Still another area where EVs have an advantage is in maintenance costs.
A study by the Institute of Automobile Economics shows that the cost of maintaining an EV is about 35 percent less than similar diesel- and gasoline-powered cars. In the study, costs of maintaining cars with internal combustion engines over a period of eight years were calculated. The results are from research carried out by the University of Economics and the Environment in Nuetringen-Geislingen, Germany, for the IFA.
The lower maintenance cost is due to the fact that EVs have less mechanical and moving components. Thus, there is no need to change oil and their regenerative braking system results in decreased brake wear. Also, clutches or exhaust systems do not need to be replaced as EVs neither have traditional gearboxes nor emit exhaust from the tailpipe.
Present EVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, have only been around for a couple of years and so their real-world operation can only be determined in some years to come, when they have travelled about 150,000 miles worth of US roads. Battery replacement cost remains a concern, though the implementation of second-life options or warranties present real hope for EV owners.