Electric Car Servicing Cost Are Lower: Here’s How Much

OCT 18 2018 BY MARK KANE 32

EV motorists are set for an eco-dividend.

The cap hpi, a British company which provides decision support data and software solutions spanning vehicle valuation, validation, collision, mechanical repair, and total cost of ownership, released a report about EV servicing costs.

Data seems to confirm that electric car servicing will be cheaper than internal combustion cars, even those with small 1.0T engines. On average, the reduction is some 23% over the first three years and 60,000 miles – “The gap widens for smaller vehicles”.

Maintenance cost over three years and 60,000 miles (96,500 km):

  • Renault ZOE £1,100 (€1,253/$1,445), 26.5% less than a Vauxhall Corsa 1.0T 90 Design costs £1,497
  • Nissan LEAF £1,197 (€1,363/$1,573), 19% lower than the Volkswagen Golf 1.0TSI 110 SE at £1,429.

We are not surprised by why dealers are not in a hurry to introduce electric cars:

“While motorists are set to benefit from lower running costs, the changing economics of electric vehicles will challenge motor dealers who rely on service revenue as an important part of their turnover.”

Chris Plumb, senior valuations editor at cap hpi said:

“An electric car motor has far fewer moving parts than a petrol or diesel engine. They also benefit from gentler driving styles that lead to lower wear and tear of brakes and tyres. While the purchase price is often higher at the moment, but coming down all the time, drivers will find an EV much cheaper to run with significantly lower costs to charge rather than visit the pump and lower maintenance costs.”

Here is cap hpi’s report on the growth of the EV sector for industry professionals.

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32 Comments on "Electric Car Servicing Cost Are Lower: Here’s How Much"

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Amen. And THAT’S why Tesla knows that no dealer would ever push their vehicles over the ICE equivalent. One can easily test this theory by going to any GM/Chevy dealer and inquiring about the Bolt or Volt with any random salesman. Within minutes, after realizing that 1) the salesman likely knows less about EV’s than you do, 2) he/she actually speaks about the range limitations, “inconvenience of plugging in, battery degradation of EV’s, and 3) he/she directs you to a similar sized/priced ICE vehicle (like a Cruz), that ICE dealers don’t want to sell you an EV.

Yes and no. This might be true currently. As more and more EV’s are released the dealer will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. My dealer for the Bolt EV really didn’t care. It’s a sale to them. There is no guarantee you’ll ever go back to the same dealer you purchased the car from, so make the sale. I’ve went back for my 2 free tire rotations and order some touch up paint. So they got about $32 from me in a year.

Tesla themselves charges $600/year for manufacturer-recommended maintenance, so I’m not sure why they – of all people – would think there’s no profit in EV servicing.

$600 is less than 1% of purchase price. This is a recommended service and you can skip it if you wish. Tesla won’t penalize you for not taking them up on it.

Apples to apples. If we’re comparing the service that the manufacturer recommends (and not the minimum required not to void your warranty, which is a completely different standard), Tesla’s service plan costs significantly more than BMW’s, as BMW includes all recommended maintenance for the first 3 years at no extra cost.

True. The real test is how expensive electric cars are to maintain after the initial 3-5 year period, and if they are less expensive enough to offset the greater initial costs

Tesla has indeed pushed annual service with the Model S and Model X which have been in the luxury class of $100,000. Still less than comparable service of other $100,000 ICEs.

This article has given focus to the low end. I just purchased a $60,000 Model 3 and there was no recommendation toward annual service at any time in the sales-to-delivery process. I suspect that trend to continue as they roll out the $40,000 Model 3. For one, their service centers couldn’t handle it at the moment. Who knows how their service model will evolve in the future, but for now, Tesla is not outside the premise of the article.

There seems to be even less to service on the Model 3. Even the gearbox oil won’t need to be changed for the life of the car unlike the Model S and X.

As I mentioned elsewhere, BMW includes all recommended maintenance for the first three years at no extra cost, from the bottom of their lineup to the top.

Now, it’s certainly fair to compare the ownership costs after the first three years… but then we’re getting into the post-warranty period, and at that point we’d have to compare the failure rate of things like door handles that are not inherently part of an ICE vs. EV comparison. Once you get into post-warranty issues, you’re really just talking about general manufacturer quality, not drivetrain technologies.

Nah biggest thing to go blooey is always the drivetrain or component therein.

Jaguar have already extended the service periods on their cars to 2 years/22,000 miles for some models. That is a world of difference to 6 months/6,000 miles for many lesser ICE’s.
It isn’t as simple as you might think

I just serviced my imiev and my wife’s equinox.

Imiev- rotated tires, removed cabin filter, and replaced cabin filter, brakes look new

Equinox- rotated tires, replaced cabin filter, drained oil, refilled oil, removed oil filter, replaced oil filter, removed air filter, replaced air filter, brake fluid needed replaced, brakes are almost shot

The imiev is a 2012 with 25k miles, equinox is 2014 with 47k miles.

Can’t wait to dump the gasser

“”They also benefit from gentler driving styles that lead to lower wear and tear of brakes and tyres. “”

This is not a valid argument as they are now considering different drivers and styles. Assume the same driving style, in the EV that means added tire wear due to heavier weight but less brake wear due to regen.

The i3 for example has limited expensive tire options that add a fairly noticeable expense to the vehicle. Tires only last about 25,000 miles so maybe $400 a year in tire expenses for an average driver. Probably double or triple what I would expect in a normal commuter car.

I’ve wondered about fitting different tire sizes to the i3 – e.g.: something wider and more common in size. It seems like it should be possible, and might look kind of neat. 😛

If you don’t care about the already limited range of the i3, go for it. Get some flashy spinners too.

It is a valid argument. I brake more carefully to try to gain as much regen at each stop as possible. That does not wear the tires any more since it takes the same amount of energy to stop a car whether by friction or by regen.
I have a std hybrid Escape. I just replaced the brakes for the first time AT 140,000 miles! I could have gone to ~200K but one of the brake shoes had its bonded pad fall off. All the other shoes had ~30% left on them.

I am happy to see that some people are actually saving money on servicing their EVs.

Here in Denmark both Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf owners have reported extreme high servicing cost “because service people at the certain located didn’t have the knowledge on how to service the EVs”.
Hopefully these cases will soon be history, but as long as EVs are still below 2% of accumulated vehicles service locations may use this excuse.

Did anyone here try something similar?

You know that filling the Northern Latitude Electron Lubricant Reservoir can be quite expensive, right?

What’s needed is for someone to open a chain of modern, proficient and clean high tech service centre’s dedicated to EV’s . Quite a challenge for they would have to deal with differing makes but not impossible and of course vehicles still under warranty would be excluded.
Quick turnaround and customer service would be of essence since there is very little to do on most EVs. Major problems would be addressed at a higher level by consulting main dealers.
The time is ripe for this business model since present dealers seem to be ignoring the trend towards EVs over their conventional products.

Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart

I’ve owned my EV since 2013. I’ve replaced tires, replaced some lights, filled in washer fluid, and washed the car. Plus some software recalls, but I don’t pay for those 🙂

Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart

Forgot to add, the EV has 47K miles. Mostly local drives, with occasional up and down the (SF) peninsula.

Good to hear but I don’t see where they get these numbers from.

My F150 has more maintenance requirements that a small car due mainly to the 4wd system.
The dealer offered me a 5 yr 100,000Km “all inclusive” maintenance package for $2300 CDN (~$1900 US). This package includes everything in the maintenance schedule PLUS brakes, shocks, battery, windshield wipers, light bulbs and more. It seems only tire replacement was not included.
I asked the service department how often I’d need to change the brakes, given I’d be towing about 1/4 of the mileage and going off road, to see if that package was a good deal. They said there is no way 5yr maintenance would be that much.
In the first 2.5 yrs, I’ve spent less than $600 CDN on maintenance with nothing major on the horizon.

So maybe some brands rip their customers off for maintenance? I’m just not seeing it personally.

The big question in your scenario would be the brakes. If they wear our after the 5 years the “all inclusive” plan won’t be worth it. With your frequent towing, they will likely need to be replaced within 5 years and if rotors have to be replaced too it suddenly gets expensive. It all depends on the timing relative to the 5 years. Those plans are a gamble.

The service requirements (if you follow those) are also very different between manufacturers of EVs. The Bolt essentially needs nothing for 150,000 that can’t be done by any owner easily
the Leaf requires brake fluid at 15,000 or 30,000 intervals depending on operating conditions.
If cap hpi had compared the Bolt to the Golf the difference would have been much greater.
I wonder if Nissan is trying to keep dealers happy with its more ‘normal’ schedule.

Those brake fluid flushes seem to standard across the Nissan line-up. That doesn’t support the theory that LEAF brakes are more susceptible to corrosion because they are seldom used and never get hot enough expel absorbed moisture contamination.

Slightly off topic, but it occurred to me that long-term longevity and maintance of EV versus ICE will be very different simply because an ICE car is subject to more severe heat cycling. It probably gets to 180 degrees under the hood on a warm day, so AC, Power steering, wiring harness, … are all likely to fail sooner on an ICE. That could account for a significant difference above 60000 miles

Not only the extreme heat, also the vibrations, the constant explosions will wear and scrap the gas engine in a few hundred thousand miles, compared to easily more than a million miles for the electric drive train.

I would expect the servcing cost differential to increase at higher mileage. My Honda is nearing the infamous Honda 105k service; water pump, timing chain, spark plugs, transmission fluid, and valve adjustment. It’s a $1200 service that would cost $0 in an EV because an EV doesn’t have one of those five components.

The GM5 module in my BMW would fail on hot days, disabling all the doors and windows. I drove with an ice pack in the glove box until I shipped it to L.A. to be repaired. The throttle body (or the ECU) would throw the car into limp mode when the engine warmed up. I tried driving it to the scrap yard letting it cool down every 10 km. Finally put it on a flat bed and bought an EV that does not have a thousand moving parts, belts, hoses, computers and sensors stewing in a oven-hot mixture of oil, gas, glycol and exhaust fumes.

I’m always looking for a wedge issue to help educate newbies about EVs, and I’ve found that maintenance cost is very effective. Someone asks about my car (2018 Leaf) and how I like it. I tell them I love it and one of the reasons is the cheap fueling and maintenance. People almost always ask about the maintenance part, as it’s something they don’t think about. I tell them it’s cheaper because a lot of the things that need repairing or replacing on an ICEv don’t exist in my car, so there’s nothing to do. No oil, no oil filter, no exhaust system, no emissions gear, no fuel injectors, no spark plugs, no starter motors, etc. Once I start listing all those non-existent parts, it really makes the point.

At 40mo/96,000km, my LEAF still has 6mm on its original brakes. Service costs to-date:
$1,841 for my 2015 Nissan LEAF 😊
$4,412 for my 2000 BMW 323i 😢
$5,308 for my 2002 Honda Odyssey EX 😭

So, it’s about £300/3 years. Compared to the sale price of the car, this is negligible. The dealers will get a slightly larger cut, and everything is back to normal.