How much it really costs to own an electric vehicle? Many people will not get an electric car because they are concerned about the unknown hidden costs of electric cars. I hope to own a Tesla eventually and wonder too.
What are the hidden costs of owning an electric car?
- Time from waiting for a full charge or Cost to Install EV Charger at Home
- Cost to maintain the equipment component (especially tires)
- Volatile Charging Cost across countries
- Add-on Costs for full features in electric car
- Insurance Cost for Electric Car
We ignored the purchase cost since those are upfront cost. I only considered fully electric cars as hybrid cars might become a disaster during maintenance or repair since an hybrid got double the parts that can fail for the little benefit it gives.
1. Time from waiting for a full charge or Cost to Install EV Charger at Home
The first hidden cost is the time to fully charge an electric car. Can you imagine waiting for 75 minutes for a full charge?
This is very noticeable for a gasoline car owner who is used to faster top-up at stations.
The time needed to charge your electric car's gigantic battery pack ranges from an acceptable 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100% on the original 85 kWh Model S.
The good news is that you can probably fully charge your car within the time needed to have a meal. It is not good though if you are working time-based.
Also, you can consider charging an electric car at home which might be saving you time instead of needing to go gas station. However, that will be another hidden cost of around $500 to $1,000. If not, you got to plan your trip to ensure you still got power till the next charge.
2. Cost to maintain the equipment component (especially tires)
Another hidden cost of an electric vehicle is the cost to maintain the equipment. In the Electrek, they bought a 4-year old 400,000-miles (highest they can find), Tesla Model X, for $30,000.
Luckily, the battery pack was replaced for free at 325,000 miles due to a faulty issue.
A Tesla battery costs around $3,000 to $7,000 to replace without warranty. This is a cost that a new electric car buyer might not think about. The frequency of battery pack replacement depends on how bad the battery degrades.
The cost to repair the Model X in its lifetime $29,000 to repair and service history of the Model X mainly in tires due to its high mileage.
Motor1.com also compared some costs of electric cars and the annual repair costs vary:
- Tesla Model S $298
- Cadillac CTS $663
- Chevrolet Corvette $737
- Mercedes-Benz E350 $788
- Audi A6 $913
- BMW i8 $979
- Porsche 911 $1,072
Motor1.com also shared the various replacement cost and maintenance cost:
- Brake caliper replacement ($357 to $593)
- Oxygen sensor replacement ($271 to $444)
- Window motor regulator replacement ($592 to $851)
- Wheel bearings replacement ($325 to $394)
Maintenance Costs of a Tesla:
- Cabin air filter ($60 to $200): The filter should be changed every two years or every three years if it’s a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.
- Tire rotation ($35-$100): Tesla recommends rotating the tires and balancing the alignment every 10,000 to 12,000 miles.
- Brake fluid test ($100-$110): Tesla owners should have the brake fluid tested every two years and replaced as needed.
- Air conditioning service ($50): Tesla recommends servicing the air conditioning every two to six years, depending on the model.
- Winter care ($depends): Drivers in cold-weather regions should clean and lubricate their car’s brake calipers every 12 months or 12,500 miles.
Over the years, their estimated cost will be around $1,490 over 5 years, given yearly tire rotation and full servicing every 2 years, excluding a battery replacement which is $3,000 to $7,000.
3. Volatile Charging Cost across countries
Oil prices change frequently and so those electricity prices fluctuate across different suppliers and countries. In fact, some electric providers charge a subscription fee like in the UK.
- The number of electric vehicles on British roads has risen by 33 percent in the last year, but that's been matched by a hike in charging costs. The subscription cost of different charging station ranges from 7.70 pounds to 17.46 pounds for a monthly subscription (thesun.co.uk)
4. Add-on Costs For Full Features in Electric Car
A "dumb" car just bring you from point to point.
Most electric cars are smarter in nature and you can start buying extra costs to maintain its "smart car" status.
For example, Tesla charges for the $8,000 Full Self-Driving features if you want it. It will not be surprising for other carmakers to pass a similar cost to car owners. That is worsened by the fact that the price could increase or decrease in the future, which Tesla did, so you are at the mercy of the carmakers.
5. Insurance Cost for An Electric Car
In ValuePenguin research, the average cost of car insurance for a Tesla is $4,539 per year. This varied greatly though and can only get better with a lower accident per miles, especially with self-driving and the potential for Tesla to offers its own insurance.
The biggest problem with an electric car like Tesla is random haters might wreck your car. With the Tesla Sentry, many people were caught trying to vandalize the cars. In Sweden, there are arsonists even burning up cars.
Given the proliferation of electric cars in China and the rise of Tesla over the world, I think the cost of electric cars will only keep dropping and eventually be a tipping point where gasoline cars are just vintage collection.