Do the math: Buying a new EV will cost less over time than maintaining your old car


About a month ago, I had to take my gasoline car into the dealer for routine maintenance. That cost about $2,000, and it needs more work. My car has been driven about 100,000 miles. It probably has at least another 100,000 to go before the end of its life. However, maintenance will be increasingly expensive from now on. I think $2,500 a year is a realistic estimate.

My car gets about 20 miles per gallon. Even though I have a short commute here in La Conner, Jenelle and I visit family in Seattle and take some other trips, so I’m driving 12,000 miles a year, which is about the American average. So, I’m using about 600 gallons of gas a year. At $4.50 a gallon, that is another $2,700 annually.

There was a new electric vehicle in the dealer’s showroom. It had an EPA mileage estimate of 33 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles. Driving it 12,000 miles would require about 3,600 kWh a year, which would cost about $400 in La Conner.

EVs and new cars each require much less maintenance than older gasoline cars. There are far fewer moving parts in an EV. They do not require as much work, and they never need an oil change. I think a realistic maintenance estimate for the EV would be $300 a year for the first ten years.

For the gas car, that’s $2,500 in maintenance plus $2,700 in gasoline a year, or about $5,200 – $52,000 total – over the next ten years. It will probably be a little more. Maintenance is likely to increase more as it ages. Also, I think the price of oil, and thus of gas, is more likely to go up than down over that much time.

If I bought the EV for $48,000 and got the federal tax credit of $7,500 towards the purchase of a new EV, its total up-front cost would be $40,500. Add $4,000 in electricity and $3,000 for ten years’ worth of maintenance, and the total cost of the new EV, over ten years, would only be $50,500. So, buying the EV for cash would result in saving $1,500, at least, over 10 years.

Financing the EV would change the math a little. If I traded in the gas car and wound up with a net up-front cost of $30,000 after the tax credit, and then financed it at 8% for 7 years, the monthly payment would be $467 a month for the first seven years, plus electricity and maintenance for a total of $525 a month. The gas car costs $5,200 a year, or $433 a month. The financing cost tips the scale towards keeping the gas car for the first seven years, but, after that, the electric car would save money.

Jenelle already has an EV, so we wouldn’t need another EV charger in the garage. If we did need one, it would cost about $2,400, or another $20 a month over ten years. With an at-home charger, you might still stop at convenience stores, but you don’t need to buy gas. An EV lets you buy back your life, ten minutes at a time.

It may be time for an EV. Stay tuned.


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