Consumer Reports’ latest report on electric vehicles contains nothing that will be surprising to anyone who owns one. However, it’s good to have some facts and figures to back up what EV drivers know from personal experience: opting for a plug-in vehicle will save you thousands of dollars compared to owning a gas-powered vehicle. Savings on fuel and maintenance more than offset the higher purchase prices of EVs and PHEVs over the life of the vehicle.
Consumer Reports compared a selection of the best-selling EVs and PHEVs (including the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Bolt, Toyota Prius Prime, and Tesla Model 3 and Model Y) to its top-rated legacy vehicles, as well as to the best-selling, most efficient, and best-performing gas-powered vehicles on the market. The consumer advocate reported its findings in a detailed white paper and a brief fact sheet.
CR’s analysis found that the lifetime total cost of ownership for the most popular EVs priced under $50,000 is typically $6,000 to $10,000 less than that of the best gas-powered vehicles in the same class. What model offers the biggest savings? Tesla’s Model 3, which can save as much as $15,000 over its lifetime compared to the BMW 330i or Audi A4.
It’s well known that EVs save money on fuel costs and maintenance, and CR’s findings are in line with previous analyses: EV owners can expect to save an average of 60% on their fuel bills; and to pay about half as much for repairs and routine maintenance.
However, CR’s report also contains a couple of tidbits that may be news even to the EV-literate: consumers who finance their purchases may experience lower costs in their first year of ownership, despite the higher upfront cost of an EV; and EVs with at least 200 miles of range are projected to hold their resale value just as well as comparable ICE vehicles.
“There’s been so much progress over the last few years that many mass-market electric vehicles will now save consumers money right off the lot,” says Senior Policy Analyst and report author Chris Harto. “Today’s mainstream electric vehicles have what many consumers are looking for, including enough range for most people to do their daily driving without relying on public charging, while also delivering excellent acceleration and a quiet ride.”
“The auto industry has spent most of its ad money tugging at our emotions and promoting gas-powered vehicle performance, but failed to market EVs, all the money they will save, and the performance they deliver,” says David Friedman, Vice President of Advocacy at CR. “The future of cars can and will be electric if the entire industry starts making and marketing compelling EVs for everyone. And that’s a future consumers are getting a glimpse of today.”