Cost of electric vs petrol cars

31 May 2022

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Emerging as a genuine alternative to traditional petrol cars, many Australians are adopting the shift to lower-emissions vehicles with the view of benefitting society for generations to come.

Electric vehicles lie at the heart of this shift, producing significantly less fossil fuel emissions than their petrol siblings.

With new advances in technology and competitive electric car loan options becoming available, just how much do electric vehicles cost to run compared to petrol cars? Here we’ll break down the cost-based factors for both electric and petrol cars to help you decide which is right for you.

Price

One of the most important factors when considering a new car is price. This is where petrol cars have a leg-up over electric cars as the technology behind petrol cars is much older and refined. This means it costs manufacturers significantly less to create petrol vehicles.

Manufacturers have and continue to invest billions into electric vehicle technology fuelled by international environmental legislation for economies to adopt carbon-neutral and net-zero emissions targets. However for the moment, the cost differences are higher for electric cars than they are petrol cars.

For electric vehicles, as a starting point you’re looking at minimum $45,000 for a small vehicle and for a larger one, expect to pay close to $100,000. Petrol variants range with new cars starting from a minimum of $15,000 for a small vehicle and north of $60,000 for a larger vehicle. In some cases an electric version of a particular model can be close to double the price of the petrol-powered variant.

Running costs

Running costs relate to how much fuel is required to power your new set of wheels. The average petrol vehicle clocks 13,400 kilometres in a year and uses 10.8 litres of fuel for every 100 kilometres travelled. With fuel prices growing at their highest rate since 1990 averaging $1.64 per litre, a quick calculation reveals that a typical motorist will spend north of $2,400 on fuel per year.

On the other hand, the average cost of electricity in Australia is $0.30 per kilowatt (kW), and it takes around 18kW to travel 100km. This means it will cost you an average $5.40 to travel 100km, less if you are on a lower electricity tariff. At 30 cents per kWh, an EV driver has an annual energy cost of $723 – over three times less than the running costs of a petrol car.

Maintenance

While knowing a qualified mechanic can save you plenty on vehicle maintenance costs, when it comes to maintenance this generally includes servicing, parts and repairs. The differences between electric and petrol vehicles in the amount of maintenance required is significant.

Petrol vehicles generally require much more work with the likes of oil changes, filters and engine repairs while electric vehicles never need oil changes or other engine mechanical repairs.

The only maintenance and repairs electric vehicles require are brake pads, tyres and suspension checks and/or replacements. You may have questions about the batteries of electric vehicles, yet advancements in lithium-ion battery technology have resulted in batteries being likely to last for anywhere between 10 and 20 years.

Range

In motoring, ‘range’ refers to how far a vehicle can travel on a single tank of fuel, or in the case of electric vehicles a fully charged battery. Generally the larger the vehicle, the greater the fuel capacity meaning it is able to travel further on a single tank of fuel. Petrol vehicles hold a significant advantage over electric in terms of range, with some petrol cars reaching north of 1,800km while electric vehicles max out at 650km.

Finding a petrol station is by no means a hard task, meaning you’re only likely to run out of fuel if you head off into the middle of nowhere, without a jerry can or considerations for when you’ll need to fill up again.  Alternatively, it can be difficult to find a charging station for your electric vehicle.

Resale value

Depreciation is overall the single biggest cost of owning a car as the moment you leave the dealership with your new wheels, they decline in value. The used car market has boomed in recent years, however determining the resale value of an electric car up against its petrol sibling is not as straightforward as it seems.

With electric vehicle technology still in its emerging phase, resale value is generally on par if not less than petrol vehicles, meaning one does not currently provide greater resale value over the other. The average resale value of these older electric vehicles is considered to be less than 40% of their original value. In comparison, petrol vehicles currently have a greater resale value of 50-60% of their original valuation.

Related: What are the benefits of a green car?

Thinking of buying an electric car?

If you’re looking to go green or simply upgrade to a new set of wheels, Carloans.com.au can save you money on your car loan by using our special brokerage network to find a good deal for you.

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