Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) offer substantial operating cost savings over comparable, conventional, gasoline-fueled vehicles. Owners of electric vehicles can expect to benefit from less expensive fuel and fewer maintenance obligations.

Fuel Savings
Vehicles using electricity as a supplemental or sole fuel source will require fewer dollars to operate. This is because the cost per mile will be less expensive with electricity compared to gasoline. The example below illustrates the saving presented by a Mitsubishi "i" (16kW battery) compared to a conventional gasoline-fueled vehicle that gets 30 miles per gallon. For the purposes of this example, it is assumed that the cost per kWh of electricity is $0.12 while gasoline is $3.49 per gallon (no increases in electric or gas costs were assumed in future years).

  Mitsubishi "i" Conventional Gas Vehicle Total Savings
Cost for 25 miles $.90 $2.91 $2.01
1 year cost (15,000 miles) $540 $1,746 $1,206
8 year cost (15,000 miles) $4,320 $13,968 $9,648

Note: Electricity costs may be reduced further through the use of free public or private charging stations or through use of solar or wind-powered charging stations. 

Many online resources are available to calculate cost savings, including the U.S. Department of Energy site at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/calc/.

Maintenance Savings
Because PHEVs have internal combustion engines, maintenance requirements are similar compared with conventional vehicles. The electrical system (battery, motor, and associated electronics) does not require scheduled maintenance. Due to the way regenerative braking works, brake systems on these vehicles typically last longer than on conventional vehicles.

All-electric vehicles, typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because:
  • The battery, motor, and associated electronics require no regular maintenance
  • There are no fluids to change aside from brake fluid (No regular oil changes!)
  • Brake wear is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking
  • There are far fewer moving parts compared to a conventional gasoline engine.

Maintenance of Batteries in Electric Vehicles
The advanced batteries used in these vehicles have a limited number of charging cycles (the number of times the battery can be charged and discharged). Check with the dealer about battery life and warranties and consider the manufacturer's battery recycling policy. Nissan and General Motors have both announced 8-year/100,000 mile warranties for the batteries in the LEAF and the Volt. Similar warranties are expected with vehicles produced by other major manufacturers.

Although manufacturers have not published pricing for replacement batteries, if the battery does need to be replaced outside the warranty, it is expected to be a significant expense.

Source: US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center
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