It’s no secret that owning an electric car costs for less to maintain than a converional car. It costs far less to charge than a petrol car costs to fill up and maintenance costs are far lower. This is because an electric car’s ‘engine’ has far fewer parts than a combustion engine does. Combustion engines have several hundred moving parts whereas an electric motor has less than a dozen. And because there are fewer parts in an electric car, car insurance will be considerably cheaper. In this article we break down the costs of ownership for both electric and petrol cars.
The Tesla Model 3, fitted with the 75 kWh battery option, has an estimated range of 500 km on a single charge and its consumption sits at a reported 14,73 kWh/100 km. Taking into account the current electricty rates in South Africa, which sit at R1.54 per kWh, it would cost R115.5 to ‘fill up’ a Tesla Model 3. The average mileage driven per year is roughly 20 000 km, so the average cost per year to drive an electric car would cost roughly R4 620.
An Opel Adam has a 38 litre fuel tank and an estimated real-world consumption of 6.2 l/100 km, making the range on a full tank roughly 612 km. With petrol currently costing R 16.85 it would cost R640.3 to fill up an Opel Adam. Combine this with the average yearly mileage of 20 000 km and you’re looking at spending R20 924.83 a year just on petrol. That’s five times more expensive than an electric car.
It’s difficult to put a price on maintenance for electric cars because they’re fairly new to the South African market. We contacted BMW and Nissan to find out about maintenance plans for the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf respectively, but weren’t able to get a definitive response by time of writing.
Suffice to say that costs will be far lower mostly because of the lack of parts that need replacing in the electric motor as mentioned before. In addition, nearly all of the latest electric cars built these days come with regenerative brakes which slow the car down automatically when lifting your foot off the accelerator. This means you won’t be stomping on the brakes as much and in turn, you won’t need to replace brake pads nearly as often as you would on a petrol car.
The most important part of an electric car is its battery. It dictates the car’s power and travel distance and so when you go out to buy an electric car you’re looking at the battery in the same way you look at a petrol car’s engine specs. It’s importance is equavalent to that of a petrol engine and it’s replacement cost is just as high. If you’ve ever needed to replace your car’s engine you’ll know very well that you’re better off buying another used car or even an entry-level new car.
Thankfully, all electric cars come with a battery warranty that covers you for between 6-8 years or 150 000km/200 000km, whichever comes first. Warranties vary between manufacturers and you need to be sure to read the warranty carefully before signing because most electric cars have specific conditions you have to adhere to in order to get your replacement battery for free.
Electric cars are undoubtedly going to become the first choice when it comes to owning a car. Costs are far lower and your impact on the environment is going to be far less than that of a petrol car. We suspect petrol cars will become an enthusiast’s hobbie at some stage in the same way muscle cars have become.