It’s true that electric vehicles (EVs) tend to be cheaper to maintain than the equivalent petrol or diesel models. And over a lifetime they can work out much cheaper. We investigate why and by how much.
There’s a lot to service on an engine
Think about the average combustion engine. It needs oil to lubricate its multiple moving parts, spark plugs (in petrol engines) that make the fuel burn to drive the car and coolant to ensure the whole lot doesn’t get too hot.
At the very least oil and coolant needs changing regularly along with various filters. Over time, other more important components such as cam belts need replacing too. Then there are parts like turbochargers that might fail the older a car gets. And more than 100 sensors monitor the performance of areas such as air and fuel flow that are vital for the engine to function efficiently.
Not so much to go wrong on an EV
An EV doesn’t have any moving mechanical parts that need servicing. That means an EV service is by and large a check. Parts such as the charging points and connections need a visual inspection.
And technicians will check coolant levels at the inverter which is what regulates the temperature of the electric motor.
What does need checking?
As with a regular car, mechanics will still inspect the tyres, lights, wipers, steering and suspension to ensure that there’s no undue wear and tear. And they’ll interrogate the car’s diagnostic system to see if the vehicle’s computer thinks there’s anything wrong.
Brakes don’t get as much wear
The second bonus of EV driving is that their brakes don’t get nearly as much wear as in a regular car.
All EVs have what’s known as regenerative braking. This is where as the car decelerates, the electric motor goes into reverse and is used as a generator to charge the battery. It means you’re harnessing the energy of slowing down in order to go forwards at some point in the future.
So how much cheaper is EV servicing?
That depends on the car you’re talking about and the time scale. Regarding the model, using entirely random examples, a top of the range BMW will probably cost relatively more to maintain than an entry-level Hyundai. Not least because at the outset, a BMW service agent’s hourly rate will likely be higher than Hyundai’s.
Equally, the older a car gets, the greater the savings could be. There are far fewer in the way of moving parts to go wrong on an EV than a combustion engine car.
The bottom line is, it’s difficult to pin an exact number down. Figures we’ve seen vary between 30 and 70% cheaper, depending on the model and assuming it’s over the whole life of the car, which should be around 14 years.
Whatever the final number, it’s safe to say that EVs are definitely cheaper than the equivalent combustion engine models.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.