Owning a Plug-in Hybrid Car
Total Cost of Ownership
The total cost of ownership (TCO) of owning a PHEV consists of three categories:
- The initial cost of the vehicle
- The maintenance costs of the vehicle
- The fuel costs of the vehicle
In general, EVs tend to have a higher manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) than traditional gas vehicles. The biggest reason for the higher price tag is the expense of the traction battery, making battery size an important determining factor when comparing MSRP among types of EVs. Due to their smaller battery size, PHEV models are a cheaper alternative to their BEV counterparts. For example, consider the 2019/2020 Kia Niro. Even the 2019 fully electric model’s starting MSRP of $38,500 costs around $9,000 more than the 2020 plug-in hybrid model and almost $14,000 more than the 2020 gas model. Plug-in hybrids offer an affordable middle ground for those who are interested in becoming more eco-friendly and cost-effective with their transportation expenses but are still intimidated by the initial cost of BEVs. As the price of lithium-ion batteries decreases, expect the price of EVs to fall as well.
Since PHEVs have internal combustion engines, the gas components of the car will share the same maintenance requirements of traditional gas vehicles. However, the electrical components of the car will be a lot cheaper to maintain because there are fewer moving parts in an electric motor than in a gasoline engine. The electric motor’s regenerative braking function will also help EV owners save money by significantly reducing the wear and tear of the brake system, specifically the brake pads. The maintenance cost for PHEVs will ultimately depend on the driver’s ability to consistently drive electric. As long as there is charge in the traction battery, the vehicle’s gas components will remain idle and require less maintenance over time.
Similarly, fuel costs will also largely depend on how consistently the internal combustion engine remains unused. Electricity has the benefit of being more price stable and a cheaper fuel source than gasoline or diesel. Most utilities offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special off-peak rates or time-of-use rates to lower fuel costs even further.