Data is king, and when it comes to information on the frequency of repairs on automobiles, Consumer Reports has more data than anyone. For its latest report, it did a deep dive into the data from its 2019 and 2020 reliability surveys of electric and gasoline powered vehicles. After crunching all the numbers, Consumer Reports says “drivers of electric vehicles are saving an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.”
Chris Harto, CR’s senior transportation policy analyst, says: “Electric vehicle owners don’t need a coupon to get half-off typical maintenance and repair costs from their dealer, it comes standard! These savings are going a long way to offset the upfront costs for consumers.”
“Electrics just don’t need as much maintenance as gas-powered cars, and even though repairs won’t necessarily be less expensive, they are less frequently needed,” explains Gabe Shenhar, associate director of CR’s Auto Test Center, which specializes in electric vehicle testing. “In addition to being easier and cheaper to maintain, many EVs deliver better acceleration compared to gas-powered vehicles and don’t pump harmful pollution into our air,” he adds.
For purposes of its research, Consumer Reports uses 200,000 miles to represent the normal service life of an automobile. On that basis, its data shows the following average cost per mile of repairs for battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and gasoline powered vehicles.
Note that the costs for plug-in hybrids are essentially the same as the costs for battery electric vehicles, a finding that lends support to the idea of driving a PHEV if you are not ready to dive into the deep end of the electric car pool yet. Just as marijuana may be a gateway drug to cocaine, a plug-in hybrid can be the introduction to driving on electrons that takes away the fear many people have of EVs. The next chart estimates the total cost of repairs over a car’s useful life.
In a separate study, Consumer Reports states that, on average, electric cars emit 60% less carbon dioxide than conventional cars. “In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, EVs can also help reduce the air quality impacts of harmful criteria air pollution, such as NOx, ozone, and particulate matter, that are known to create smog and can cause lung diseases.”
Many cars cost less to purchase than an electric car, but then again, how much are your lungs worth? How much are your children’s lives worth? Not only are maintenance costs for EVs half those of conventional cars, electricity costs about half as much as gasoline, even at today’s absurdly low gas prices. Low maintenance, low operating costs, proven environmental benefits. At this, the only question is, if you are not driving an electric car, why not?
See our EV total cost of ownership archives for much more on these topics.