Comparing the Lifetime Ownership Cost of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF to Other Hybrid and Conventional Vehicles


Electric-drive vehicles are cheaper to own than hybrids or the average conventional vehicle.

That’s the case being presented in a recent analysis conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The study examined the lifetime cost of ownership for the Model Year 2013 Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt.  The EPRI then compared those figures to the “average conventional” and “average hybrid” vehicles.

The results, as seen in the charts above and below, show that both the Volt and LEAF come out cheaper overall.

The Volt is just slightly cheaper in lifetime ownership costs than hybrids or conventionals, but the LEAF is substantially less than its non plug-in competition.

Nissan LEAF Compared to Hybrid and Conventional Competitors

Nissan LEAF Compared to Hybrid and Conventional Competitors

EPRI says that the biggest factors here were gasoline prices (estimated at $3.62 per gallon by EPRI for this study) and incentives (only the $7,500 federal incentive is included in the charts seen here).

Finally, EPRI says that accounting for different driving patterns is extremely difficult in its assessment of these vehicles.  Therefore, EPRI limited its study to include just 2 driving scenarios: 83 percent of driving days were less than 40 miles and 53 percent of driving days were less than 40 miles.  Of course, these patterns were mostly chosen due to the Volt’s electric-only range.  Charging was done only once daily under both scenarios.

There’s a lot to glean from the charts and there’s certainly some statistics to dispute, but we’re rather confident in the EPRI’s general suggestion that electric-drive vehicles are indeed cheaper over their lifetime than the average automobile.


Categories: Chevrolet, Nissan


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10 Comments on "Comparing the Lifetime Ownership Cost of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF to Other Hybrid and Conventional Vehicles"

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I wonder what “average hybrid” is. I mean, are the averaging in things like the Tahoe Hybrid? Because I’m pretty sure the most popular hybrid on the road (The Prius) would be less expensive overall than a conventional vehicle. The “purchase price” their graph points towards is somewhere around $27,000. Well, a Prius can be bought cheaper than that and definitely uses way less fuel.

This doesn’t include the value at the end of ownership.

Looks like they have a battery replacement factored in for the leaf but not the others.

I was wondering what “replacement” was supposed to be. I knew it couldn’t be a new battery because nobody knows the price. But I suppose they could have factored in $100 per month at some point.

This study defines ‘lifetime’ of the vehicle to be 150,000 miles driven and the figures here assume you keep same car the whole time, so if you don’t keep the car that long then this analysis no longer valid. Obviously the more expensive the initial purchase is, the less cost effective that car is the shorter the ownership period is…so unless you keep the car until you’ve driven 150,000 miles then the more costly BEV loses cost competitiveness.

Additionally I believe you’re even less likely to keep a BEV that long due to the amount of room for technological innovation in this segment. Maybe in 5 years the battery and efficiently of the tech will be such that you’d be more likely to hold onto a car that long, but at this point in time I just don’t see it personally.

…and honesty how many of the ‘early adopters’ today are going to be happy sitting on a plug-in vehicle of any kind for 150K? Not I.

Same deal for all leases, you can talk about the cost effectiveness of any plug-in over a conventional car sibling if you are only retaining it 2-3 years.

I think where the curve in favor of EREVs and BEVs over conventional cars is (vis-à-vis savings) is when you take second hand purchases of plug-ins with lower mileage, or at least heavily discounted end of year/discounted plug-in products.

/its all just fun case studies anyway at this point

Volt purchase price too high in diagram. Anyway that is infication of BEV and EREV advantage.

Yep The Volt is a EREV so that justifies the cost – also If you drive your volt most of the time in EV – then the payback is faster !

I think it actually understates the payback, also I plan to keep my Leaf basically forever! Fueling cost almost 0, @ 25Kmi. total maintenance so far, 25c of windshield washer fluid, one moving part in the motor, no real transmission, the only thing I’m likely to replace is tires. Eventually it will require a new battery, maybe @ 150K? by that time maybe something better will be available? If not the current battery is good enough. Why would I trade it? I think people don’t appreciate how different the model for an EV is, we get new cars because they wear out and start becoming unreliable and expensive to maintain, I don’t think that will happen here.