As automakers roll-out new electric vehicle models every year, today’s car shoppers may find themselves heavily debating the benefits of electric and gas vehicles. While everything from reducing your carbon footprint to drivability may come into consideration, there’s another, more basic issue that can be the dealbreaker: cost. Here are the pros (and cons) of owning an electric vehicle.

Annual operating costs

The annual cost of operating a vehicle depends heavily on your local energy prices. Gas and electricity pricing vary greatly from region to region (and quite dramatically from one country to another). But in the U.S., on average, an electric vehicle (EV) costs less than half as much to drive as its gas counterpart. So, yearly costs for a gas-reliant car, for example, cost a little over $1,100. But an electric car will run about $500 each year. Want to further increase your electric vehicle costs savings? If your home has solar panels, you may be able to charge your vehicle off-grid. And drivers in areas with Time of Use (TOU) electricity rates can further slash their operating costs by setting their vehicle chargers to kick on during off-peak hours.

Upfront costs

Before you run out to buy a new electric vehicle, there are other costs worth considering. Electric vehicles cost more new than their gas-powered equivalents. Tax credits and rebates offset some of this imbalance, but EV’s tend to cost you more to drive off the lot. Still, most experts agree that the initial higher cost of the EV will be recouped after a few years of lower operational and maintenance costs when compared to a gas-powered vehicle. Other upfront costs you might want to consider when buying an EV: home solar installation and adding a 220v charging outlet for faster charging times.

Maintenance costs

In terms of annual maintenance costs, electric vehicles have the upper hand. With no engine, cylinders, pistons, transmission, or gears (and no smog checks required), a battery-powered vehicle is a much simpler machine than a gas-powered vehicle and therefore accrues much lower maintenance costs over time. The big-ticket item that may require replacement on an EV is the battery. Due to consumer fears about battery replacement, manufacturers are now offering longer battery warranties, typically ranging from 8 to 10 years.

Resale value

While electric vehicles indisputably promise great fuel savings and impressive longevity, there remains a commonly overlooked cost to owning an EV: depreciation. EVs, as a class, show a higher rate of depreciation than gas-powered vehicles, which may add considerably to the annual cost for vehicle owners. As new EV models boast desirable features like improved vehicle range, there seems to be less demand for pre-owned or used EVs, which can impact your resale potential.

So in the pump versus the plug battle, who reigns supreme? While EVs seem to win when it comes to cost, there are many other variables consumers must weigh when making a purchase decision. Do your research, review the data, and make an informed decision next time you find yourself at the car lot.

Smart technology | Car tech


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.