Costs of electric vehicles

Person pumping gas

Comparing costs of electric, gas-powered and hybrid vehicles

If you're considering a new vehicle, knowing how it fits into your budget can be the biggest piece of the puzzle.

For gas-powered vehicles, you typically need to budget for fuel costs and maintenance in addition to the up-front purchase cost and insurance.  

But for electric vehicles and hybrids, those numbers can look quite different, particularly with gas prices continuing to climb. Depending on where you live and your charging options, you may need to budget for ongoing charging or installing a charging station - but the lifecycle costs due to reduced maintenance can be dramatically lower than a gas-powered car.

Compare the total costs of a vehicle - both up-front costs and costs over the lifetime of the car - to know whether it's a fit for your budget.

Up-front purchase costs and rebates

Your choices when it comes to electric vehicles are growing every year: new models and lower price points are making zero-emission vehicles more accessible.

It's true that many electric vehicles have a higher initial purchase price than a standard gas-powered car, but significant federal and provincial rebates can make many of those vehicles more affordable. There's also a significant resale market for used vehicles, which might make it easier to find a deal.

Be sure to consider all the possible rebates when calculating the up-front purchase price of an electric or hybrid vehicle:

Fuel costs: significantly lower with electric vehicles

A simple calculator can help you determine what your fuel costs are with your current vehicle, or with a gas-powered car that you're considering.

Consider calcuating your annual costs, factoring in your commute and regular routine, longer trips, and any changes to your driving that you might be planning (e.g. moving farther away from your job, or a teenager hitting driving age).

Here's a fuel cost comparison – using 20,000 kilometres of driving a year as the constant - between electric and internal combustion powered vehicles:

  • Nissan Leaf S: $430 vs. $2,200 for a gas-powered compact car

For a real-world example, compare the electricity costs for some typical commutes in B.C.

Commutes to downtown Vancouver from surrounding communities

CITY

ELECTRICITY COSTS PER YEAR (NISSAN LEAF)

GAS COSTS PER YEAR (HONDA CIVIC)

Richmond $144.43
$965.33
Surrey $263.38 $1,718.64
Coquitlam $339.84 $2,110.08
Abbotsford $603.22 $3,268.27


Yearly maintenance costs lower with EVs

Gas-powered vehicles require more maintenance than electric vehicles, and even hybrid vehicles.

Consider calculating the average you've spent on vehicle maintenance in the past five years as a baseline, factoring in major repairs or replacement parts, along with preventative maintenance such as oil changes.

Estimates vary, but some basic calculations show that average maintenance costs for a vehicle can be around $100/month - and these costs typically climb as your vehicle ages.

There's still some maintenance required even with electric vehicles (you'll still have tires to rotate) but many components can lost longer before requiring maintenance. Brakes in an electric vehicle could last 300,000 km or more before requiring service, as the bulk of braking in an electric vehicle is regenerative, in which the electric motor slows down the vehicle while recharging it at the same time.

Replacement battery packs can remain a significant cost for electric vehicles - it varies by model and manufacturer, but replacement batteries currently run around $5,000-$8,000 depending on your vehicle. Warranties offered for most vehicles run between 5 and 8 years for battery replacement.

While that cost may seem steep, it's about the same as spending $100/month for five years on regular maintenance and repairs. And there's no guarantee you'd need to replace your battery after five years - meaning your amortized replacement costs would be even lower.