Which vehicle type costs more to maintain?
Over the last few years, there’s been lots of talk about the cost benefits of switching to electric vehicles. With fuel prices rising and emissions-focused government incentives popping up, Australian consumers have been left wondering if now is the time to take the leap into purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle. Unfortunately for buyers, the lack of EV stock has made it frustrating, difficult and expensive to get ahold of green vehicles. This has led many Australians to bide their time, waiting for stock or for the wave of used electric vehicles to enter the secondhand market in the years to come.
For those still weighing their vehicular options, the question of maintenance cost has become of increased importance. While manufacturers are quick to point out the cost saving of low fuel consumption, there is little in the way of information about maintenance costs for upkeep of an EV. From parts to charging during inflated electricity prices, there is a lot to consider about the cost of upkeep before switching to green vehicles. To help buyers make the right choice for them, we’ve outlined the financial pros and cons of EV and ICE vehicles.
In 2023, Australian fuel prices hit record highs. With a number of international conflicts impacting the cost of fuel, Australians are watching prices rise month on month, with little reprieve in sight. This price inflation directly impacts the budgets of the everyday Australian and can put significant pressure on vehicle owners and transport businesses. These high prices vary slightly between providers and can impact drivers from different localities.
Electric and hybrid vehicles have more efficient running costs, though unfortunately, in 2023 the cost of electricity has also been significantly affected by inflation. However, the price is still significantly more affordable than petrol, and as we see Australia invest in greener options, some electricity providers have begun to offer specific EV charging plans with ultra low cost tariffs. And luckily for EV drivers who have to charge on the run, charging fees in public sites are generally consistent between networks and don’t typically fluctuate the way fuel prices do.
All vehicles eventually need to have their car battery replaced, with the replacement costs varying greatly between models and fuel types. For ICE vehicles, many manufacturers guarantee between 8-10 years for new batteries, although they may need changing closer to 4-5 years after hitting the road. Luckily for ICE drivers, car batteries can be an affordable aspect of car maintenance due to the large range of options available on the market. In general, to replace your car’s battery, you can spend from $100 for a standard new battery, up to $1,000 for a premium one.
Unfortunately for EV and hybrid drivers, the cost to replace a green battery can be as high as half the price you paid for the vehicle. However, most manufacturers offer specific EV battery warranty, which should definitely be looked for when shopping around. For those drivers who aren’t covered by warranty, new EV batteries in Australia cost between AU$7,360 to AU$29,450. This high replacement cost will gradually decline as the market grows to include more EV battery options, and in the interim, used EV battery units from other vehicles can be used as a more affordable alternative.
For your stock standard passenger vehicle in Australia, the cost of a basic service typically ranges between $200 and $400 depending on where you live, according to CANSTAR. These run-of-the-mill checks typically include services like wheel alignment & bearings, spark plug replacements, suspension checks, fluid management and a range of testing and checks. These services are recommended every 6 months, which means drivers could be spending between $600 and $800 a year to upkeep their vehicles.
Alternatively, electric vehicles don’t require the same kind of part servicing as ICE vehicles, meaning they theoretically should cost less to service and maintain. While EVs don’t need oil changes, spark plug replacements or belt changes, they still require maintenance to keep up to speed. This means many manufacturers have longer service intervals, only suggesting servicing every 2 years. However, this varies from brand to brand. For an EV service, the range is so wide that depending on the vehicle you could be paying anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for one visit.
So while EVs may not need yearly servicing, when they do pop up they may hurt the back pocket!
Unfortunately, for EV drivers, there is one unavoidable consequence of an electric vehicle - they burn through tyres 30% faster than ICE cars. Due to having hefty weights and quicker acceleration, electric vehicles are more prone to burn through tyres than their ICE counterparts. While tyre manufacturers are starting to introduce EV-specific tyres into the market, for the time being you’re likely to spend more on tyres than an ICE vehicle getting the same use.
For ICE drivers, tyres are replaced between 3 to 5 years on average. Tyres for ICE vehicles can be relatively affordable as there is a large marketplace for new tyres available. New tyres for vehicles can range between $80 to $800 according to Autoguru.
To motivate buyers, the Australian Government offers many financial incentives for greener drivers. EVs and some low emission petrol-electric hybrids qualify for concessions on motor vehicle tax. There’s also a discount on registration costs, depending on the weight and purpose of the vehicle. And eligible new or used battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell light vehicles can be eligible for stamp duty exemption depending on the state. Meanwhile, ICE vehicles must continue to pay for the average vehicle registration fee as per their stat and car size.
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