Consumer Reports: Electric Vehicle Total Cost of Ownership Savings Breakdown

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

Consumer Reports is well-known for their annual survey of customers about their cars’ reliability and ownership costs. While electrical vehicles usually cost more upfront, they also cost less to fuel, maintain, and repair than traditional gas-powered vehicles. But CR has now released much more detailed data about real world results. Here are some highlights from their summary article and full report.

A CR study shows that total ownership cost savings can more than make up for an electric vehicle’s typically higher purchase price.

Maintenance costs. Here are the average maintenance and repair costs over vehicle lifetime.

  • BEV (Battery-Electric Vehicle): $0.03/mile
  • PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle): $0.03/mile
  • ICE (Internal Combustion Engine): $0.06/mile

The difference increases with the age of the vehicles, breaking down roughly to 2 cents per mile for the first 100k miles and then 4 cents per miles in the second 100k miles.

Fuel costs. Most EVs cost on average $800 to $1,000 less to fuel up for each 15,000 miles. This adds up to $8,500 to $11,200 savings over the lifetime of the car. (Prices vary, but most are within 10% of this average. Places where gas costs more is also often where electricity costs more.)

Resale value. It’s basically a tie. Both compact and luxury cars of both EV and ICE types lose about 55% of their value over first 5 years, on average.

Here’s my super-simplified take. Take any EV upfront price premium, and offset it with:

  • Maintenance and repair savings. About 2 cents per mile savings in the first 100k miles, and 4 cents per mile savings after that.
  • Fuel cost savings. Calculate yourself using your miles driven, local gas price, MPG, local electricity price, miles/KWh. Lots of fuel calculators out there.
  • Depreciation. This will likely be a wash, so no savings.

In the end, that EV price premium is still the most critical factor to your bottom line, but it is nice to have some hard numbers especially about the difference in overall maintenance and repair costs.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I bought an all electric vechicle right before the pandemic hit. Man, I am never going back! The up front cost is steep but its basically “free” to drive.

  2. It does not seem very convincing. Maybe at the higher price rangers, but I loled at this one:
    “For example, a Chevrolet Bolt costs $8,000 more to purchase than a Hyundai Elantra GT, but the Bolt costs $15,000 less to operate over a 200,000-mile lifetime, for a savings of $7,000”

    200k seems like (quite) a bit of a stretch for either of those two. Especially for someone buying brand new – they probably won’t be dealing with one of these for 200k miles.

    Their comparison seems to make some sense when stretched out to 200k but much less so in first 5 years of ownership, where savings don’t appear like much (if at all) compared to the hassle of planning trips around charger locations and camping next to one every time you need to fill up.

  3. Someone should do a comparison on used cars. A used car is so much cheaper than new.

    • True, but a used electric vehicle is also cheaper than new, as they showed the depreciation curve is similar. EV inventory is lower, but definitely out there especially when the 3-year leases end.

  4. I wish that they used a discount rate to apply to future years. 4 grand sounds like a ton in savings, but discounting it up to 7 years into the future makes the comparison look much closer

  5. unfortunately, MA is one of those state with high electricity rate( double the USA average) and average gas rate.
    so it is now cheaper to fill up gas than electricity. before the pandemic, it’s about the same.

  6. I don’t know about used EV’s in general, but Tesla does have the highest use car value retention, far higher than comparable ICE cars:

  7. Plug-in hybrids having lower maintenance costs than gas-only cars doesn’t pass the smell test. A plug-in hybrid still has a gas engine and is more complicated. The only savings I can think of are around brakes (thanks to regenerative braking).

    I guess the Chevy Volt doesn’t have a “direct” link between the gas engine and the wheels, but the whole setup is so complicated that I have a hard time believing it would be more reliable in the long term than a (well understood) traditional gas engine…

    • Do you not have to replace brake pads and brakes with the “regenerative braking” ?

      • Regenerative braking dramatically reduces the brake wear as most braking is done by the motor which reverses as a generator to recharge the battery. However, I think Eric is not quite correct, most hybrids have batteries which are too small to accept the amount of current generating by braking. In contrast full EVs with their large batteries can take advantage of it.

    • I’m not disagreeing with your logic, but this article suggests some ways in which a plug-in hybrid might have lower maintenance costs:

      – PHEVs can do a lot of driving in 100% EV mode, so less wear and tear on the IC engine.
      – Regen braking means less brake usage, so less wear on brake pads, brake fluid lasts longer.
      – No separate starter, so no starter to fix/replace. Just the same electric motor (that requires minimal maintenance).
      – No air conditioning belt to fix/replace.
      – All this lower wear and tear means the manufacturer’s recommended servicing intervals are extended, and some even offer longer warranties.

      • “– PHEVs can do a lot of driving in 100% EV mode, so less wear and tear on the ICE engine”

        To be able to do a lot of driving in 100% EV mode, would you need to do a lot plug-in charging? Or is there a lot of EV mode the way that normal hybrids can go into EV mode?

        • The current Prius Prime can be driven for 25 miles all-electric per EPA, and the Hyundai Ioniq can go 31 miles EPA. Most PHEVs that I’ve read about can be set to all-electric if you want. So if your commute is short and you plug in every night, you can have a big chunk taken care of using the bigger battery in a plugin vs. non-plugin hybrid.

          • Yes. but my question was if you can’t plug it in because you live in a condo/apartment.

          • If you can’t find a place to plug it in, I would go for a regular hybrid instead of a plug-in hybrid. You’re paying extra for a bigger battery in the PHEV and the benefit gained is from the ability to plugin to charge that bigger battery from the grid.

      • Thanks! I hadn’t considered some of those points. I’m still skeptical, but I’m at least now convinced that it’s *possible* for plug-in hybrids to have marginally lower maintenance costs.

Speak Your Mind