Electric vehicles have appeal that goes way beyond dollars and cents. Drive an affordable EV or a fancy-pants EV and you will quickly discover that dollar for dollar, EVs are generally more enjoyable to drive than vehicles with conventional powertrains. If you need any more proof, simply join some plug-in hybrid electric vehicle forums. Owners do all they can to stretch their electric miles because the vehicles are more pleasant to drive in EV mode versus hybrid mode.
Electric Vehicle Affordability
One big selling point that EVangelists stress is affordability. We’re not on board with that quite yet. While affordable electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt seemed like a steal at $20K a year ago after crazy dealer discounts, they are not a great deal at their MSRPs. Or over MSRP. Couple that with the fact that a negligible amount of affordable battery-electric vehicles are delivered month to month, and EV affordability is still an open question for most of the folks who shop for cars.
EV Energy Savings
Fuel savings and lower maintenance costs are two big promises that battery-electric advocates stress when they calculate total cost of ownership. Without a doubt, the average cost to energize an EV is mile for mile a lot less than the average cost to fuel up a gas-powered vehicle of similar capacities and abilities. There are some very pricey EV public charging scenarios, but for the most part, EV owners charge at home where the cost is a fraction of what it costs per mile to move an internal combustion-powered vehicle.
Ahh, But Tires...
Lower maintenance costs hold great promise. EVs should be less expensive to maintain. But are they? Maybe. It depends on which you buy and what costs you include. Are tires included? Tire rotations, alignments? Tires and their required vehicle maintenance are among the highest types of maintenance costs for any vehicle. And tire costs trend higher for EVs, which are always the heaviest cars in their size segments. Factor in amazing torque, and the fact that many EVs lack a spare and that many use specialty tires, and the costs are higher for the most part than conventional cars.
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Still, if we remove tire replacement from the equation, EVs should have a lower to maintain cost to the consumer. So low, that EV owners often brag that they do no maintenance at all with no downside. Heck, with regenerative braking even brakes last longer on EVs, right? There are some filters to change on a yearly basis and coolant to change once or twice over the vehicle’s lifespan, but that’s pretty much it. So why don’t manufacturers of EVs include all maintenance aside from tire-related costs for the life of their EVs? What are they afraid of?
Here Are Manufacturers Who Include EV Maintenance For Short Periods
In fact, some manufacturers do cover EV maintenance for a set period of time - for all their models, regardless of the powertrain type. Jaguar covers all required maintenance on its amazing I-PACE for five years, the full duration of its warranty period. BMW covers EV maintenance for three years. As does Hyundai, Genesis, Volvo, Jeep, and MINI. Toyota’s cars all come with two years of included maintenance. Torque News maintains an annual list of which brands offer included maintenance on all models types. Biggest surprise? Tesla does not include maintenance costs for any period of time. You pay, and yes there is a (limited) list of recommended maintenance to be performed in the manual. When Tesla first began offering cars it had the highest cost of maintenance in the industry.
Why Don't Manufacturers of EVs Just Include Maintenance For Life?
Since including maintenance is already something that manufacturers do for all models for some period of time up to five years already, why not just be done with having owners ever have to reach into their pockets to pay to maintain an electric vehicle that is built and designed to be low maintenance?
Tell Us Your Opinion
We’ll let you tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Our feeling is that paying for maintenance should be a thing of the past. Now about those notoriously short-duration warranties…
Images of Tesla maintenance area by John Goreham. Tesla Model Y maintenance schedule from owners manual.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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