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EV Maintenance Costs Are 30% Lower Than Gas Vehicles At 3 Years, New Study Finds

The most comprehensive survey yet finds EVs actually do have lower maintenance costs.

We Predict, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a company that uses data analysis to provide manufacturers with the information they need to make accurate business decisions. It works with manufacturers behind the scenes using actual repair and maintenance data to help manufacturers spot potential problems faster.

On October 28, We Predict released its Deepview True Cost analysis — its most comprehensive study yet of the true cost of maintaining an automobile. Here’s the takeaway from that report: “After Higher First Year Costs, EV Service Costs Fall 30% Below Gas Vehicle Costs At Three Years.”

We Predict does some things that are unusual. It includes items covered by factory warranties, but not collision repairs. The dollar figures include, but are not limited to, consumer out-of-pocket costs. Including manufacturer costs gives a truer picture of how much it actually costs to keep a vehicle in top condition, CEO James Davies tells Forbes.

What the We Predict survey does is add up the total money spent by manufacturers and vehicle owners on repairs and maintenance during the first three years of ownership. Its sample size is enormous. The study is based on 65 million orders for maintenance or repairs for 13 million vehicles of all kinds, not just electric vehicles.

We Predict refers to its 36 month study as a “Second Owner Study,” because most leases are 36 months long. Millions of off-lease vehicles head for a second owner at the 36-month point. Electric vehicles are also very commonly leased.

Included in the We Predict cost calculations are maintenance, unplanned repairs, warranty and recalls, service campaigns, diagnostics, software updates, and warranty costs on factory installed options, Davies says. Other routine costs of ownership, such as gas, or recharging EV batteries, local and state inspections, seasonal tire changes, and insurance, are not included.

The survey found the average amount of money spent on maintenance per EV in the first three years is $77 — significantly lower than the $228 average for gas vehicles. “Consumers have high expectations for EVs in terms of cost of ownership,” says Renee Stephens, vice president of North American operations for We Predict. “While costs early in the ownership period are higher for EVs, they eventually become more economical — for both the owner and the manufacturer. Over time, less EV maintenance offsets the higher year one costs for diagnosis, repair and campaigns.”

The study includes more than 13 million vehicles across 400 models, with results based on 65 million service or repair orders that totaled more than $7.7 billion in parts and $9.5 billion in labor costs. Here are the report’s key findings:

  • Deepview data shows electric vehicle maintenance is three times lower and repairs are 22% lower than gas vehicle costs at three years.
  • Kia ranks best for lowest service costs among non-premium brands at three years.
  • Acura has the lowest service costs among premium brands for the same period.
  • Nissan Motor Corp. tops the brand award count with six segment-leading vehicles in the new We Predict Deepview True Cost study of service cost data at three years in service.

For electric vehicles, We Predict ranked the Honda Clarity, the Chevrolet Bolt, and the Volkswagen e-Golf as the Top 3, respectively, for the lowest 36-month costs. The study confirms the widely held expectation that EVs logically should cost less to maintain since they are mechanically simpler than vehicles with internal combustion engines and have fewer moving parts.

An earlier We Predict study, published in May 2021 and based exclusively on the first 90 days of ownership, caused a bit of a stir within the auto industry, Forbes says, because it showed higher costs for EVs versus internal combustion vehicles. Davies says that still holds true for the first 90 days, but over 36 months EVs average out lower.

In addition, he said the 36 month costs are “highly indicative” of the costs consumers would likely face beyond the 36-month point. In other words, the report is based on enough data that the results should reflect real-world experience and closely match customer and manufacturer expectations.

The Takeaway

The fact that electric cars cost less to maintain does not necessarily mean they are cost competitive with conventional cars, at least not yet. But add in higher resale value, lower fuel costs, and intangibles like not polluting the atmosphere (and your kids) with carbon dioxide and fine particulate matter and the economic case for EVs gets stronger and stronger.

We have been saying for years that electric cars cost less to maintain and now we have proof of that. One more reason why you should consider the switch to an electric car as soon as possible. Today would be good!

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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