Myth busted - Electric vehicles cost more to maintain than gas cars do
When electric vehicles became available in a variety of choices about three years ago one of the positive aspects of ownership promised was that they would be maintenance free. This was, of course, an exaggeration, but it had some elements of truth. Historically, maintaining a car was mainly focused on the internal combustion engine (ICE). This meant that the owner’s cost to maintain the car were closely linked to the engine. Since the EV has no engine of this sort, maintenance would be much less expensive. Let’s look closely at the two top selling EVs to see is this is true.
Tesla Maintenance Costs
We are big fans of the Tesla Model S here, and we like Elon Musk. Both are a breath of fresh air, dynamic, modern, and forward leaning. The Tesla Model S retails for between $75,000 and about $120,000. All vehicles sold in this price range come with some level of included maintenance, the Tesla does not. The first Tesla service is at one year and the cost, according to both the Tesla Website and also owners who have posted their invoice information on Tesla clubs we belong to, is $600. This makes Tesla the most expensive car in its price range to maintain. Drive a Lexus, Cadillac, BMW, Volvo, you name the brand, and this costs you nothing.
Tesla offers double-speak about its maintenance. Elon Musk likes to point out how useless dealers are saying “…auto dealers is that they make most of their profit from service, but electric cars require much less service than gasoline cars. There are no oil, spark plug or fuel filter changes, no tune-ups and no smog checks needed for an electric car.” Let’s look closely at this. There are no fuel filter changes on any modern car this author is aware of. That went away long ago. What the heck is a “Tune-up.” Again, long-gone with modern ignition systems. Plugs? Plugs in even the cheapest cars now last over 100,000 miles, and in some cars even longer. Smog check? There are no smog checks required by automakers. In fact, the emissions components on a modern car are warrantied for eight years or 80,000 miles by federal law. If Mr. Musk is referring to the annual inspection sticker most states require, he should know those are more about safety and revenue generation than emissions.
Mr. Musk is also guilty of double-speak when it comes to charging for maintenance. His website and stores offer service plans but point out that the vehicle warranty is not affected by maintenance. Then why charge for it? A four year, 50,000 mile service plan for a Model S costs $1,900. All internal combustion BMW automobiles have this exact amount of miles and years of service at no charge.