All the Costs Of Owning an Electric Vehicle

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Electric vehicles save at the "pump" and have lower maintenance costs. But are they really less expensive to own? Here's what you need to know.

According to Consumer Reports, the most popular electric vehicles (EVs) cost less to operate over their lifetimes than their internal combustion engine (ICE) cousins. Powered by cheaper electricity, EVs come with fewer moving parts that wear out, reducing maintenance.

But that doesn’t mean they’re maintenance-free. While you won’t need to change the motor oil, air filter or fuel filter, the brakes, rotors and wiper blades will wear out just like any other vehicle. Let’s look at some of the savings and unseen costs of owning an EV.

Are Electric Vehicles More Expensive To Purchase?

Yes. According to Kelley Blue Book, in September 2022 the average EV costs almost $17,000 more than a comparable ICE vehicle.

However, according to AAA, EV owners can save $1,300 in annual maintenance costs and an additional $700 to $800 in fuel compared to its ICE equivalent. (That presumes you drive 15,000 miles a year, pay $3.75 per gallon and get 27 miles to the gallon.) On average, U.S. drivers own their cars for almost nine years, saving owners almost $19,000 in that time.

But be aware there are hidden costs:

  • Depending on make and model, annual car insurance for an EV can run $200 to $400 more than the same ICE model.
  • Some EV manufacturers will void the warranty if owners work on their EVs themselves or have them fixed by their local repair shop. This results in costlier repair bills.

How Much Do Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Cost?

Depending on kilowatt (kW) output and features, Level 1 120-volt battery chargers cost $200 to $600. Level 2 240-volt chargers run about $500 to $2000, plus installation if it needs to be hardwired ($500 to $2000).

Most EVs come with a Level 1 charger. These are portable and plug into a standard household 120-volt outlet (20 amp circuit recommended). However, you’ll be wise to upgrade to a Level 2 model that recharges an EV quicker than a Level 1. Also consider storing a Level 1 charger in your EV, the same as an ICE battery jump starter.

Level 2 chargers need a dedicated 240V, 40 to 50 amp circuit. That requires a special receptacle, like a NEMA 6-50 outlet. You may also need to upgrade to 200-amp service. Depending on where you live, your home’s age and other factors, expect to pay $1,500 to $4,000. Adding a sub-panel to your current service ($250 to $1,000) may be all you need. Consult a licensed electrician to determine your options.

Public Level 3 and Level 4 direct current (DC) commercial EV charging stations run on three-phase/480 volts, which isn’t available in most homes. They can cost over well $100,000, plus design and installation costs. Maybe one day they’ll be in every home, as ubiquitous as water heaters are today. For more, learn all about EV charger types with this guide.

How Much Does It Cost to Charge An Electric Vehicle?

It depends on:

  • Where you live;
  • The level charger you use;
  • Time of day;
  • Temperature;
  • State of battery charge or degradation.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 the average cost of electricity nationally was 17 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). So if your EV has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 50 kWh/100 miles, it would cost $8.50 to travel 100 miles, or 8.5 cents per mile. An ICE vehicle getting 30 mpg at $3.50 per gallon would cost $11.67 for the same 100 miles, or 11.7 cents a mile.

There are still many free public EV charging stations, but rates vary. Some charge by time, others by kWh.

Nationally, Level 3 charging runs from 30 to 70 cents per kWh, and Level 2 from 20 to 25 cents. Some stations offer a monthly subscription service so you can pay by credit card or mobile app. Beware: Some stations tack on fees if your EV remains plugged in after it’s charged.

How Much Does a Replacement EV Battery Cost?

If your vehicle is out of warranty, expect to pay $5,000 to $15,000 or more in parts and labor to replace the battery.

Federal regulations mandate batteries in all EVs sold in the U.S. be covered under warranty for at least eight years or 100,000 miles. Many manufacturers cover the battery up to 150,000 miles. When properly cared for, an average EV battery should last 200,000 miles, or 10 to 20 years.

EV batteries are recyclable, but the process is slow, complex, expensive and environmentally unfriendly. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds new technologies and second-life applications, making the future of EV battery recycling more economical and ecologically responsible.

How Much Do EV Tires Cost?

Expect to pay $100 to $400 more for a set of tires for your EV than regular tires. That’s because they’re made to carry the extra weight of an EV’s battery and motors.

EV tires deliver instant torque to the wheels/tires. While this results in excellent acceleration, the extra weight and heat causes EV tires to wear out more quickly. EV tires also provide better traction, less rolling resistance and, without the roar of an ICE, a quieter ride.

Electric Vehicle Tax Credits

Currently the federal government, most states and public utilities are offering tax credits or other incentives that can help lower the lifetime costs of an EV. These changes came with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

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Bob Lacivita
Bob Lacivita is an award-winning ASE and General Motors auto technician, educator and freelance writer who has written about DYI car repairs and vehicle maintenance topics. His work has been featured in The Family Handyman, a Reader's Digest book and Classic Bike Rider magazine. He has been a career and technical educator for 25 years teaching automotive technology, as well as writing state, federal and organizational foundation grants. He also helped design a unique curriculum delivery model that integrates rigorous, relevant academic standards seamlessly into career and technical education.