How Much Cheaper is it to Drive Electric?

Laurance Yap
Sep 2022
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For their recent report, called “The True Cost,” Clean Energy Canada analyzed a number of popular electric vehicle models, comparing their total ownership costs with that of their closest gasoline equivalents. Without exception, they discovered that driving electric was financially rewarding.
electric vehicle on road saving you money

Electric Vehicle Ownership Costs Up to 37% Less

There are many reasons that drivers choose to switch from gasoline to electric vehicles. Some love the technology that EVs come with; some love the electrifying performance; some love the silence; some are looking to do their part for the environment. And many are looking to save money. But, just how much money can you save by switching to electric? A recent Canadian study suggests that you could save thousands – and the more you drive, the more you save.

For their recent report, called “The True Cost,” Clean Energy Canada analyzed a number of popular electric vehicle models, comparing their total ownership costs with that of their closest gasoline equivalents over an estimated eight years of ownership, and 20,000 km (roughly 12,000 miles) a year. And without exception, they discovered that driving electric was cheaper than gasoline – often exceptionally so.

Comparing “normal” 2021 gas prices with the price of electricity during similar periods, some vehicles showed a total ownership cost of up to 37% less – enough to buy another vehicle after eight years.

The Fuel Savings Factor

It is true that electric vehicles are often more expensive to purchase than their gasoline counterparts. For instance, the base price of a Volkswagen ID.4 SUV is approximately 50% higher than the popular Honda CR-V, before federal and regional incentives. So, it’s likely you’ll pay more up front, or more on a monthly basis, for an EV.

However, what you pay for the vehicle is only one part of the total cost of ownership. Calculate the larger monthly car loan of an EV against the higher fueling and maintenance costs of a gasoline car. Using average 2021 gas prices, and average 2021 electricity prices, costs of “fueling” the electric ID.4 were a third of the (relatively efficient) gasoline CR-V – and contributed to 22% lower cost per kilometer driven.

After eight years, the reduction in fueling costs is also compounded with lower maintenance costs. With no oil changes to perform, and a far simpler electric drivetrain, maintenance and repair costs for the EV were just over half that of the gasoline vehicle, offsetting the ID.4’s slightly higher depreciation and contributing to a 28% reduction in cost of ownership over eight years.

Apples to Apples Comparisons

Some vehicles on the market actually allow for true apples-to-apple comparisons.

The Hyundai Kona, for example, provides a useful case study. While the Kona Electric is significantly more expensive than its modestly priced gas version (to the tune of $20,000 Canadian, or about $14,000 USD), its lower running costs over time would save drivers $15,000 Canadian or about $11,000 USD over eight years of driving.

And lest you think stratospheric gas prices are the primary culprit in the price difference, the calculation used average gas prices from 2021. Factor in the significantly higher fuel prices in 2022, and the cost savings for going electric is magnified significantly – to the tune of $24,000 Canadian or $17,000 USD over eight years. That’s nearly enough to buy another car!

The only electric vehicle that had a close competition on cost was the electric Ford F-150 Lightning, which was just a couple of thousand dollars cheaper to run than a gasoline F-150 (assuming 2021 gas prices). The more expensive gasoline gets, however, the greater the savings for going with the electric F-150 – never mind the incredible acceleration and high-tech features the electric version has over its gasoline counterpart.

The More You Drive, The More You Save

If you own your car for longer than eight years, if you drive it more than average, or if gas prices settle at or above current levels in 2022, the savings from going electric are greater still. An electric vehicle's fiscal advantage compounds with every mile driven – so the more you drive, truly the more you save.

That’s in addition to the many other benefits of going electric. As an electric vehicle driver, you get to skip trips to the gas station altogether; one less errand to run for working families. You save on maintenance – with no more oil changes, and other components like brakes lasting longer than on gasoline vehicles. You’ll insulate yourself from rising fuel prices. And you’ll get to enjoy doing your part for the environment.

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