It’s a question that is continually being pondered about recently by those contemplating whether purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) will be cheaper than buying a gas-powered vehicle. But before we attempt to answer that question, ask yourself if you even need a car at this time because, let’s be frank - does it make financial sense to buy a new or used car? Let’s explore the various situations that might make you ask yourself which type of car or truck you might want to buy.
Let’s take this first scenario: You have a vehicle(s) that runs fine and can get you from point A to point B. Yes, it has some dings and might need some light maintenance or repair, but can certainly last you 3-6 more years. Assuming that it’s also paid off, you won’t need to put a down payment for a new/used car from a dealer and take out a loan with possibly a high-interest rate. In this case, you might be better off holding off on the purchase of another vehicle and saving money performing DIY repairs on your current vehicle with a good old Haynes Repair Manual. Cars can last a lifetime with the proper maintenance and repair!
Now let’s say your car is on its last leg, on its way out, and you’re seriously thinking about the differences between gas or EV. The electric vehicle market is growing slowly in the US and around the world but has a long way to go before it becomes the dominant type of vehicle on the road. There are several factors why everyone is not flocking to the Tesla dealership.
Gas vs EV maintenance and Repair
If you already have a vehicle that’s paid off, the costs may be minimal to keep it maintained and running like a champ. Changing the oil yourself could take about 30-minutes every few months, and the minor engine repairs you might need to do yourself, like replacing the thermostat or spark plugs, you wouldn’t need to perform on an EV. These simple repairs may only cost you less than a few hundred dollars. If you purchased a vehicle from a new or used dealership, regardless of which type of fuel goes in your car, you may not have to do any repairs on your vehicle because it’s under warranty.
Another thing to keep in mind is that fully electric vehicles like Tesla have not been on the market very long, so there isn’t enough data to gauge their reliability compared to gas-powered vehicles. In a J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM, Tesla ranked 30th of 33 car brands for overall reliability. That’s better than only Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, and Land Rover among all automakers across the world.
So, in the long run, we don’t know how reliable or what parts may need repairs down the line after the warranty expires. With a gas-powered car, there is a wealth of knowledge among independent mechanic shops and from us, Haynes Manuals, to help you fix your car. With an EV, you might be forced to take it to the dealership after your warranty has expired and depending on the type of repair you need could be very costly. As many know, the dealership is sometimes the last place you want to take your car or truck in for repair.
Cost of fuel vs EV Charging and higher upfront costs
There’s no doubt about it, an EV will save you money. The lines at the pump or EV charging station will still be the same or worse at the EV station since the infrastructure is not fully developed yet. The average cost of traveling 100 miles on an EV will cost around $0.03 per mile and that’s not bad at all, when the current cost per mile on a gas vehicle is around $0.17. You can also benefit from government tax incentives when purchasing a new electric vehicle.
What you will want to think about is the higher upfront cost of purchasing an electric vehicle. The cost of an EV on average is about $10,000-$20,000 higher than a gas car of a similar class. The government incentive for purchasing an EV sits around $7,500 if you get the full credit. But be careful when you purchase an EV because you might only get 50% of that and then 25% of the full credit depending on when you make your purchase. The incentive program will be phased out at some point, so if prices do not come down, your upfront cost to purchase an EV will not sit well with your wallet. Both Tesla and GM have hit their incentive vehicle cap of 200,000 vehicles sold. This means the tax credit availability can be phased out at any time.
Of course, you can charge your vehicle at home, but most EV’s will take quite a long time to charge if your battery has been depleted. There are 3 types of charging levels you need to be aware of:
Level 1 – This is kind of like a trickle charge that you will plug your vehicle directly into your 110v outlet in your garage. You can expect a whopping 3-5 miles of charge per hour. This might be fine if you work from home and do not have a lengthy daily commute to and from work. You’ll have no issues in the charging department if you’re only driving around a few times a week or less.
Level 2 – This level of charging will be either at home by purchasing the necessary hardware to connect your vehicle to a 220v charger or charging at a public station. Keep in mind some public charging stations do not charge as fast as others. You could get anywhere from 10-30 miles of charge per hour. As you can see, it varies. If you are using a public charging station, you will also need to sit in the car or go shopping for at least 30-minutes to get a decent charge, a minor inconvenience if you plan your commutes.
Level 3 – This is the fastest way to charge because it’s a DC charger around 480v. But you will need to locate one of these chargers that work for your vehicle. Remember there is no “standard” EV charging station that every electronic vehicle can work on. You might need the necessary adapters.
Making The Decision
This is, of course, your own decision whether to purchase an EV, keep your current vehicle and do the maintenance or repairs, or purchase a new gas-powered car. There are great reasons to buy an EV, like possible long-term savings on fuel, but you won’t skip the waiting lines to charge your vehicle in public and you’ll need to plan your commute based on your location versus when you need to charge. Then there are the higher upfront costs of purchasing one and the long-term unknowns of what to expect when your warranty expires, and when you need to make repairs. You might find that some of the issues with buying an EV won’t matter to you, but if they do, a gas vehicle might cost almost the same to drive until EVs get a better foothold in the market.