Electric Car Running Costs

While enjoying a coffee with my 18.5 year old daughter the other day I mentioned a friend’s car was for sale. At only $3,000 it seemed like a good deal. However then we started adding up the costs of running a car. She uses my EV all the time, so we decided to compare.

It occurred to me that my daughter is a pioneer – a young person who has done the majority of her driving in an EVs. She is making history.

I have been driving my EV for 5 years and 40,000 km so we have some long term data. Now my car is a recycled 23 year old carbon-burner, not one of the new breed of factory EVs. However I think the year-year maintenance would be about the same.

Annual running costs:

Item Infernal Combustion Electric
Registration $700 $700
3rd party Insurance $130 $130
Servicing $700 $0
Repairs $300 $300
Fuel/Electricity for 15,000 km $1,800 $900
Total (annual) $3,630 $2,030
Total (weekly) $69.80 $39.04

Assuming Petrol is $1.5/litre, ICE car does 8l/100km, electricity is $0.3/kWh, EV does 0.2kWh/km. If you save up the $2k/year you save with your EV for 2 years you can install a PV array. Now it costs $0 for electricity and we are down to $1,130/year or about 25% of the ICE vehicle. You aren’t ever going to make petrol on your roof for free, and with depleting fossil fuel reserves it will be forever getting more expensive. It’s non-renewable so every litre you use means one less for your grandchildren.

The average income for my daughters peer group (most of them studying) is $200/week. They generally have old cars that need constant repairs. Nothing goes wrong with EVs. If it does, it’s trivial to fix. Only wearing parts are brakes and tyres. No servicing. They don’t pollute.

That’s why she loves my EV.

13 thoughts on “Electric Car Running Costs”

  1. Really interesting.

    Can you also calculate battery maintenance/life?

    For example my current car is 13 years old, and I’ve owned it for the last 11 years. No major changes except usual wearables.

    Would an electric car last as long? Is it true the battery will need to be replaced? Will the motors last as long?

    1. Good question. I am 5 years into my current Lithium pack which cost $5,000 in 2009. It is rated for 10 years or 3000 70% discharge cycles. This might mean 20 years on 30% cycles. I have killed one cell, and another is a bit dodgy, but this was due to accidental over discharge which I imagine would be impossible on a factory EV. So the battery pack life is holding up as planned, despite my abuse of it! I imagine the battery pack will be cheaper and better when I replace it. The DC motor I use is rated at approx 1,000,000 km. After that the brushes need replacing and it’s good to go.

      1. That’s certainly hopeful. And combustion cars last this long after hundreds of years research anyway. I can see my next-next car will have some form of EV.

  2. Hi David,

    So I would like to hear your comments along the lines of: If I were to build another electric car I would….

    Specifically, This type of motor from this manufacturer, This type of controller from this mfgr, These cells from…

    I REALLY wish I lived near you to have seen your work on your car. Most impressive.

    And on the comment about recharging solar cells. I am wondering about a solar steam rig with steam turbine driving a generator.

    Thanks for your post.


  3. I love your EV so please take the following with a grain of salt..

    Our family’s second car is a 23 yr old Hyundai Excel – purchased for a massive $1500.

    What would the conversion cost to electric run to? I think you need to include this in the above. Plus the 23 yr old car is good for 6.5l/100km, making the running costs a lot closer.



    1. Hi Simon,

      You know I’m a bit out of touch with current prices for EV components. I’d guess $10 – $15k to get a suburban commuter type conversion with an 80 km range. Check out evalbum.com for some examples. I would guess that one-off conversions won’t make short term economic sense at this stage in terms of capital costs.

      Neither did the Wright brothers first airplane……

      The title of the post was “electric car running costs”, I have spoken about the capital costs in other posts. Short answer is they will eventually drop beneath ICE vehicles. Mass production of anything electronic, lack of moving parts etc.



  4. I’m a big fan of EVs but nobody ever seems to take tire replacement into consideration when counting the service costs. 😉

    1. Actually I just replaced my tires after 5 years – $320, and brakes were also done last year. Those are the only two remaining wearing parts compared to an ICE vehicle. Guess I absorbed that into the repairs column.

  5. I am curious about your servicing $ amount. I drive diesels…the only servicing is oil changes, and they are about $20 each. Unless you are saying take it to the dealer to get serviced…then it becomes and apples to oranges comparison since you obviously do your own servicing of the EV.

    Second question is how much do batteries cost, and what is their lifespan?

    I am surprised the registration costs are the same for both vehicles.

    1. Hello Mike,

      The servicing costs for ICE were based on taking it to a mechanic a few times a year, roughly my experience last time I had an ICE vehicle. The dealer servicing costs for an EV would be the same as doing it myself – there isn’t any. No oil, fluids, spark plugs, air cleaners, hoses, fanbelts etc. Just brakes and tyres every few years.

      My current battery pack cost $5000, and is rated at 10 years.


  6. Hi David

    Did you account the cost for recycling the batteries , and the cost for replacing them in the long term

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