Long Term Costs of Owning an Electric Car (EV) Yahoo Voices voices yahoo com

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IDEALE EV Electric Cars

Electric Car (EV) Ownership Costs Go Far Beyond Electricity Bills

When thinking of the costs of electric car ownership the first thing that always comes to mind is all the money you’ll save by not having to buy any gas. Ever . As gas lingers around $4 per gallon and is projected by some industry analysts to rise to $5 per gallon very soon, relying on an EV and electricity instead sounds very appealing. But what about the long term expenses related to EV ownership beyond just the costs of charging your vehicle up on a day-to-day basis?

These are a few different factors to keep in mind.

Home Power Bill Tier Increase

In many markets around the U.S. how much you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWH) on your monthly electricity bill is based on your usage. Use a little electricity and pay a little for each unit. Use a lot and the power companies will really stick it to you. In Los Angeles County, Southern California Edison charges customers using the lowest amount of electricity around $0.12 per kWH, while those falling into the highest tier pay a whopping $0.31 per kWH.

Charging a Nissan LEAF’s 24 kW battery every night is sure to move you up a couple of tiers, meaning all your other home electricity use will become much more expensive. In some markets electric companies offer a second meter for EV use, but this is far from universal and costs the customer extra for installation.

Public Fast Charging Stations

As electric cars begin to proliferate, so will what are known as public fast charging stations. These spit out a much higher voltage than a standard outlet or even a home EV charging station and will charge most EV batteries to 80 percent capacity in well under an hour. Fast charging must be factored into long term EV use costs as until battery technology improves significantly the fear of running out of juice will be a big hurdle to electric car adoption.

Companies such as ECOtality are already scheming up vast networks of quick-charge stations catering to drivers who frantically seek a little more range. Don’t expect quick charging to come cheap. Bet on it costing you significantly more per mile traveled than gasoline, especially in its early stages.

Collision Repair Costs

While electric cars can rightfully claim to be less mechanically complex than their gasoline and hybrid counterparts, their components are extremely expensive. Electric motors and drivetrain components, and more than anything fragile battery packs, can become irreparably damaged even in a minor collision. Most EVs house battery packs either clustered in the front, rear or under the floorboards. A hard collision will likely require a complete battery replacement and a many-thousand-dollar bill before even factoring in other costs.

Extensive, and expensive, computer-controlled devices are EV staples in both the drivetrain and interior features. The bottom line? Repairing an electric car after the same collision as a comparably sized economy car gasoline counterpart could quickly get much more expensive.


Battery Replacement

Just like your cell phone battery, lithium ion batteries like those used in current-generation electrics lose charge capacity over time and eventually fail. Always. While a properly maintained car’s engine can last for several hundred thousand miles at best, battery packs are projected to last much less than that. Nissan offers a limited 96 month or 100,000 mile warranty on the LEAF’s battery pack, but it only covers complete failure and not gradual loss of capacity. What about keeping your car longer than that, or buying a higher-mileage EV on the used car market?

Based on the price premium added to electric cars for battery costs, replacing a spent battery will likely cost around $8,000 or more than an economy car engine and transmission combined.

If gas prices go up significantly EV cost of ownership will continue to become more attractive, but don’t forget to take in to account all these long term costs before you make the leap of faith toward gas-free motoring.

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