Electric vehicles may be more expensive to buy outright than their internal combustion engine counterparts, but what matters more for the buyer is the total cost of ownership, which factors in costs like fuel, maintenance, insurance, and even vehicle depreciation.
Obviously, these costs vary from vehicle to vehicle and can add up to many thousands of dollars over time. That is why it's important to know what models have the lowest total cost of ownership.
One way to find out is to check out Kelley Blue Book’s 2023 5-Year Cost to Own Award, which picks winners in every category from eligible 2023 model-year vehicles. The awards recognize new vehicles with the lowest projected ownership costs over the initial five-year ownership period.
Obviously, our focus here is on electric vehicles, so here's what you need to know. There are five battery electric vehicles that dominate their categories in this year's awards – Electric Car, Electric Luxury Car, Electric SUV, Electric Luxury SUV, and Electric Truck.
Unfortunately for fans of affordable EVs, earlier this week General Motors announced that it will be ending production of the Bolt EV and EUV later this year.
Tesla won the Electric Luxury Car and Electric Luxury SUV categories with its Model 3 and Model Y, respectively. These are the two most popular EVs worldwide, and Tesla's repeated price cuts means they are now similarly priced to some of their ICE competitors or even cheaper in some cases.
Interestingly, the fact the Model 3 and Model Y won their categories in KBB's 2023 5-Year Cost to Own Award suggests their resale values aren't taking as big of a hit as reported after Tesla started slashing prices since January.
As for the Electric Truck category, the Ford F-150 Lightning took the prize, which is also not a big surprise considering it still is the most affordable electric pickup truck on sale in the US, despite repeated price hikes in recent months.
Unfortunately, KBB did not offer estimates regarding the average total costs of ownership buyers can expect for these models over a five-year period, so we'll have to take their word for it.
Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own information takes into consideration depreciation, expected fuel costs, finance and insurance fees, maintenance and repair costs, and state fees.