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Research Reveals EVs Are Affordable to Maintain, But Costly to Repair

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【Summary】Analytic firm We Predict found that servicing an electric vehicle could cost more than servicing a car with an internal combustion engine.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 16, 2021 6:20 AM PT
Research Reveals EVs Are Affordable to Maintain, But Costly to Repair

One of the major benefits of owning an electric car is that they supposedly require zero maintenance. Forget about oil changes, spark plugs, and timing belts. All consumers have to worry about with electric vehicles are brakes, tires, and suspension, so they're supposed to be far more affordable to maintain. That means EVs are supposed to be cheaper to own. Well, that's the theory behind electric vehicles, anyway. Research from analytical firm We Predict reveals that EVs aren't that much more affordable to own than internal combustion engines.

EVs Aren't That Affordable

According to the firm's research, an EV can cost more to own than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine when looking into service costs (when a vehicle goes in for a repair) and maintenance costs (wear and tear items). In a three-month time frame, the firm found that electric vehicle service costs were 2.3 times higher than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. At 12 months, service costs for EVs were still 1.6 times higher than a gas-powered car. Service costs for EVs averaged $306, while services for gas cars averaged $189.

While this may sound like a huge issue, the firm has a simple theory for the price difference. EVs are still really new and mechanics are logging longer hours when working on electric cars compared to gas-powered cars. This could be because mechanics are taking a long time to diagnose vehicles and fix them. Since EVs are packing new technology, it's taking mechanics a little while to get up to speed with them.

The research indicates that EVs require 1.5 times the labor hours than gas-powered cars, while labor rates are usually 1.3 times higher. Additionally, mechanics require more certifications and work experience to service an electric vehicle. That could also contribute to the higher prices.

Long-Term Data Isn't Available

On the other hand, maintenance costs for EVs are down compared to gas-powered cars. On average, electric vehicle owners spend $7 to maintain their car within the first year of ownership. Gas-powered car owners spend $30 during the same timeframe. That's just over a short period. We expect that number to grow over multiple years as internal combustion engines require a lot of maintenance around the 100,000-mile mark, but long-term data on EVs isn't available yet.

According to We Predict, the auto industry is still in the initial phase with EVs. The majority of things are still in the teething phase when everyone's learning about them and the idiosyncrasies that go along with them. But for the time being, early adopters are looking at spending more on servicing their electric vehicle than they would with a comparable gas vehicle.

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