True Cost of Electric Vehicles

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By AAA Automotive
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Electric Vehicle Owners to the World – Going Green is Not as Scary as You Think

AAA’s new study pulls back the curtain on the true cost AND experience of electric vehicle ownership

Previous research from AAA has found that 40 million Americans have expressed interested in going electric for their next vehicle … yet the roads are still mostly filled with gas-powered cars. So, why are people saying they want electric vehicles but very few have actually made the leap? Pre-conceived notions about things like cost, insufficient vehicle range or lack of places to charge have likely kept many Americans on the fence about buying an electric car. AAA believes that just like other new vehicle technologies, experience could be the key to helping ease or even eliminate commonly-held concerns about electric vehicles.

First looking at cost by using the same methodology as its annual Your Driving Costs study, AAA found that owning a new, compact electric vehicle was only slightly more expensive – about $600 annually - than its gas-powered counterpart. Although the overall costs are more, electric vehicles are lower in individual categories such as fuel and maintenance.

  • Fuel – the electricity required to drive 15,000 miles per year in a compact electric vehicle costs an average of $546, while the amount of gas required to drive the same distance costs $1,255 (or 130%) more.
  • Maintenance/Repair/Tires – electric vehicles do not require as much maintenance as gas-powered ones since they don’t need oil changes or air-filter replacements. If maintained according to the automakers’ recommendations, electric vehicles cost $330 less than a gas-powered car, a total of $949/annually.

Beyond the cost of ownership, AAA also wanted to understand if experience has an impact on attitudes about electric vehicles – and if given the chance, would consumers choose to go green again. A survey of electric vehicle owners, 71% of whom were first-time EV buyers, revealed some interesting results:

  • The majority (96%) say they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.
  • Two in five (43%) say the drive more now than when they owned a gas-powered car. On average, electric vehicle owners drive 39 miles per day.
  • Three quarters (78%) also have a gas-powered car in the household, yet they report doing a majority of their driving (87%) in their electric vehicle.

Perhaps most surprising, is the effect electric vehicle ownership has on longstanding fears, particularly those that have deterred consumers from making the leap to green. Range anxiety, for example, is a concern that has been cited by many consumers as one that directly impacts the decision to not purchase an electric vehicle. Almost all owners surveyed (95%) report never having run out of a charge while driving. Likely as a result of this experience, those who were originally concerned about insufficient range became less or no longer concerned post-purchase (77%).

Vehicle ownership, whether electric or gas-powered, is a personal choice that should take many factors into consideration. For consumers who are interested in electric vehicles, AAA recommends visiting a dealership, test driving one and asking as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.

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