All the Costs Of Owning an Electric Vehicle

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.

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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. Thinking of purchasing one? Make sure to go through these electric vehicle FAQs before you make a decision.

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. Also, find out how much an electrician costs.

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.

Bob Lacivita
Bob Lacivita is an award-winning ASE and General Motors auto technician, vocational educator, Career and Technical Center administrator and freelance writer who has written about DIY car repairs, vehicle maintenance and other self-help topics for more than 20 years.
At the age of 12, Bob took his first engine apart, a 2-cycle Briggs and Stratton from a lawn mower he found in the trash. At 14, he rebuilt a seized Chevrolet engine in a 1956 Belair that he drove for three years. He spent most weekends, as well as the money he earned working a gas station, at Atco Dragway in Atco New Jersey.
Although trained as an architectural drafter, he never worked a day in that field. Still, the skills he learned helped as he renovated and rehabbed his homes. His true love was cars and so he made that his life’s profession. Bob worked for one of the largest Oldsmobile retailers in the country and earned Pontiac and Oldsmobile Master Technician Elite status as one of the top 20 GM technicians in the country.
Bob was also a Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) certified career and technical educator for 25 years, teaching automotive technology for 11 of them. He's been a Certified Vehicle Safety Insructor and an Emissions Inspector, too. Bob earned his master’s degree in educational leadership, as well as his PDE K-12 Principal Certification and his Career and Technical Education Directors and Curriculum Supervisors certificates, to become a school administrator. When it comes to education, Bob has two sayings: The kids are the best part of teaching, and teaching was the hardest job he ever had. It was the best job he ever had, too.
Since retiring, Bob has continued to maintain his ASE Master Technician; MACS Section 609 Refrigerant Recycling Certification; PA safety and emissions inspector certifications, credentials, and licenses; and participated in more than 100 hours of update technical training through MotorAge, Snap-On, Dorman Products and Automotive Technician Training Services, Mitchel1 and others.
Bob currently writes regularly for Family Handyman and works as a consultant with one of the largest automotive retailers on the East Coast, setting up an automotive technology training and apprenticeship program in partnership with a local catholic high school.
Bob and his wife lived through 40 years' worth of DIY home remodeling while parenting two (now grown) boys, and now relax by watching their three fabulous granddaughters.