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Electric Cars Are Already Cheaper To Own and Run Than Petrol Or Diesel, Says Study (theguardian.com) 474

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Electric cars are already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, new research shows. The lower cost is a key factor driving the rapid rise in electric car sales now underway, say the researchers. At the moment the cost is partly because of government support, but electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option without subsidies in a few years. The researchers analyzed the total cost of ownership of cars over four years, including the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and maintenance. They were surprised to find that pure electric cars came out cheapest in all the markets they examined: UK, Japan, Texas and California.

Pure electric cars have much lower fuel costs -- electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel -- and maintenance costs, as the engines are simpler and help brake the car, saving on brake pads. In the UK, the annual cost was about 10% lower than for petrol or diesel cars in 2015, the latest year analyzed. Hybrid cars which cannot be plugged in and attract lower subsidies, were usually a little more expensive than petrol or diesel cars. Plug-in hybrids were found to be significantly more expensive -- buyers are effectively paying for two engines in one car, the researchers said. The exception in this case was Japan, where plug-in hybrids receive higher subsidies.
The study has been published in the journal Applied Energy.

Electric Cars Are Already Cheaper To Own and Run Than Petrol Or Diesel, Says Study

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  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @08:11AM (#55663103)

    At the moment the cost is partly because of government support, but electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option without subsidies in a few years.

    So it's cheapest -- as long as you ignore that pile of money over in the corner that someone else is paying, and one we promise will go away Real Soon Now. Good grief.

    • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @08:18AM (#55663121)

      Maybe there should be a healthcare tax on diesel.

      • There should be one on gasoline as well, but certainly diesel's should be higher.

        • Why? Last I heard diesel looks and smells worse (at least in the typical American engine), but gasoline exhaust was a significantly larger health hazard.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 02, 2017 @10:33AM (#55663595)

            No, we've just gone through this in the UK. Diesels were given a tax break (less tax on fuel) for decades because of the lower CO2 emissions, and now we've got dangerously high NO2 levels everywhere and lots of health problems attributed to particulates from diesel soot.

            And that's all with Euro spec diesel and diesel engines. With the bunker fuel they sell as diesel on your side of the pond and lax environmental regulations, it's a health hazard to be anywhere near a diesel powered vehicle.

            • And that's all with Euro spec diesel and diesel engines.

              Guess what? That's inferior to US spec, where you wind up having to have a catalyst and inject DEF — thereby eliminating almost all NOx emissions. Meanwhile, direct-injected gasoline engines can produce NOx just like diesels...

              With the bunker fuel they sell as diesel on your side of the pond and lax environmental regulations, it's a health hazard to be anywhere near a diesel powered vehicle.

              On our side of the pond, most of the diesel is now ULSD.

              • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @06:08PM (#55665525)

                On our side of the pond, most of the diesel is now ULSD.

                Oh lol. Talk about picking on the spec that wasn't a health hazard and holding it high above your head. *golf clap* But since you're so proud of it, let's compare. ULSD in the USA contains 15ppm sulphur, introduced in 2006. A commendable effort. On our side of the pond the requirement was ULSD be 10ppm and available as of 2005 and was mandated as a requirement from 2009. No doubt by the time you'll shave off those 33% we'll have banned diesel vehicles.

                And to reply to your quote out of order:

                Guess what? That's inferior to US spec

                You're not even close. Never were. The USA has been a very distinct follower rather than a leader in the west when it comes to fuel standards. Not just in sulphur spec, but also in your much lower cetane (where the EU was 17 years ago), higher ash content (where the EU was 12 years ago), higher water content (this was actually at one time better in the USA), and the GP was right your thick diesel gunk has much more in common with bunker fuel than the higher cut-point EU specs.

                where you wind up having to have a catalyst and inject DEF

                You see you're conflating two issues. The diesel in the USA is garbage compared to that in the EU, but all of that is actually not relevant to NOx, or PM2.5 emissions which is the battle against diesel. These are a direct result of vehicles in the rest of the world focusing on fuel economy. So while a european car will produce more NOx and more PM2.5 emissions regardless of if you buy your diesel in europe or the USA, your lovely all American soot mobile will blast PM10, CO, and that wonderful global warming inducing CO2 out the tailpipe like it's going out of fashion.

                Just like your large CocaCola in the USA is much larger than the large in the EU, so are your vehicle's insatiable thirst for fuel. I'm sure in 5 or 10 years you guys will catch up too, start producing fuel efficient engines, realise NOx is a problem, start peeing in the exhaust pipe to try and control the emissions and then stand there wondering why the EU fought a war against diesel vehicles (my own city has gone from 730000 registered diesel vehicles in 2006 to 120000 in 2016 and we're much better for it).

                Join the craze man, being able to breath is like cool and stuff.

      • Maybe there should be a healthcare tax on diesel.

        Why single out diesels when gasoline cars produce both more soot and more dangerous soot than diesels [slashdot.org]?

    • Yeah, and I strongly suspect that somebody just can't do arithmetic as well. Perhaps SOME electric cars are less expensive than SOME gasoline cars, but there is a huge range of prices for gas cars, even in a given class. If you compare a high end luxury gas car to the cheapest electric, add in the subsidy, and make negatory assumptions about the probable price of gasoline over the expected lifetime of the car, you can probably fudge it to make it come out a win, but if you compare apples to apples without subsidies, it isn't so clear. Suppose a car goes 12,000 miles in a year. At 20 mpg, that costs 600 gallons of gasoline, or around $1500/year. Over a ten year lifetime, fuel costs are only around $15,000, so if electric cars ran FREE you'd need price points for CHEAP electric cars to match those of CHEAP gasoline cars within around $12,000, allowing for the cost of money. But the cheapest electric cars are easily this much more than the cheapest gasoline cars, and even the study only allows for a 10% difference in maintenance costs, which really remains to be seen as these costs are highly variable by manufacturer. But electricity is NOT free -- even if it is being provided "free" in some places it is really just another subsidy, and costs SOMEBODY somewhere between $0.10 and $0.20 per KWH.

      I ran into the same difficulty with our Priuses. The first Prius we bought was $40,000. At the time, we could have easily gotten a similar size/class car for maybe $20,000 to $25,000, one that got around 30 mpg. There is no way we paid off the difference in financing costs over the lifetime of the car with the marginal savings on gasoline at around 50 mpg. New cheap Priuses are better -- close to break even -- but electric cars IMO have a ways to go.

      • It doesn't appear to me they included the cost of charger and installation.
      • The study also assume all miles driven can be done in the EV. It ignores the percentage of miles that are long trip miles, and the cost of renting and fueling a vehicle to make those trips. (the solution many suggest to range issues).
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 02, 2017 @09:17AM (#55663297)

        eGolf lease deposit - $4000
        Lease monthly payment - $50
        Price to drive to work 12000 miles at 4m/kWh and $0.11 per kWh - $330
        Total cost of ownership over 3 years - $6740

        Golf lease deposit - $3000
        Golf lease monthly price - $170
        Price to drive 12000 miles at 36mpg and $2.60 per gal - $867
        Price for yearly service - $300
        Total cost of ownership over 3 years - $12451.

      • The Prius is a hybrid, and the article's graph says yes, they are more expensive, but it also shows electric is cheaper right off the bat. So they agree with your analysis of the Prius and don't have your lack of data on electrics.

        Costs are different in the UK. Mostly they're higher -- labor, electricity, manufactured goods. But they have different choices in cars than we do, and those cars tend to be lighter.

        From their analysis, it's pretty clear that in the US, where electricity is cheaper, electric c

      • > At 20 mpg, that costs 600 gallons of gasoline, or around $1500/year. Over a ten year lifetime, fuel costs are only around $15,000

        The cost of 600 gallons of gas is $1,260. Forty cents a gallon per gallon is TAX, which pays for things like subsidies to people buying electric cars, "free" charging stations, etc. It's paid buy people using gas cars, but it's the cost of electric car subsidies, roads (used by freeriders in electric cars), etc.

      • Also, it's not just the finance costs on the downside, it's the capital costs on the upside, if you could have put that $17K delta to work for you over the same period (even in an index fund).

        My kids learned "the time value of money" before kindergarten - how can a professional economic analysis ignore it?

        • Also, it's not just the finance costs on the downside, it's the capital costs on the upside, if you could have put that $17K delta to work for you over the same period (even in an index fund).

          Most people are buying a car on credit, so that money is being put to work, but it's being put to work for the financing company, since they're the ones who actually have it. No matter how hard they try, the consumer is not going to be able to invest money they don't have.

          My kids learned "the time value of money" before kindergarten - how can a professional economic analysis ignore it?

          You ignored the basic realities of the situation to try to make a really killer point, which turned out to be nonsense. Over eighty percent of vehicles are financed.

      • by shmlco ( 594907 )

        The thing with Prius is that one should consider the additional cost as insurance paid against gas price fluctuations. And, like most insurance, you hope you don't need it.

        If we had (or have) major issues in the mideast or the gulf (war, hurricane, etc.) that caused gas prices to bump back up to $5/gallon or more, then your Prius could more than paid off the difference in price. We didn't, but that was hard to foresee a few years ago.

        You also need to factor in maintenance costs, yes? We just spent $300 repl

      • by shmlco ( 594907 )

        And doesn't Prius have one of the highest resale values out there? There's more to your purchase than just the price of gas.

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @11:07AM (#55663789)

        The first Prius we bought was $40,000. At the time, we could have easily gotten a similar size/class car for maybe $20,000 to $25,000, one that got around 30 mpg. There is no way we paid off the difference in financing costs over the lifetime of the car with the marginal savings on gasoline at around 50 mpg

        That's actually a problem with how the U.S. measures fuel efficiency. MPG is actually the inverse of fuel efficiency. So the bigger the MPG number, the less fuel you're saving. The rest of the world uses liters per 100 km to avoid this problem. e.g. Suppose you needed to drive 100 miles. How much fuel would you need to use?

        6.25 MPG tractor trailer = 16 gallons
        12.5 MPG full-size SUV = 8 gallons
        25 MPG sedan = 4 gallons
        50 MPG Prius = 2 gallons
        100 MPG supercar = 1 gallon

        Notice how every time MPG doubles, the fuel saved over the previous step is halved? Economy cars like the Prius are the worst place to put a hybrid engine. It's already a very fuel-efficient vehicle without a hybrid motor. Adding a hybrid motor and batteries doesn't save you very much fuel. Say a non-hybrid Prius got 33 MPG (3 gallons per 100 miles). Converting it to a hybrid only reduces its fuel consumption to 2 gallons per 100 miles. That +17 MPG may look big, but it's only saving you 1 gallon per 100 miles.

        The best place to put a hybrid motor is in the gas guzzlers - tractor trailers and SUVs. Precisely the vehicles the environmentalists scoffed at hybridizing. If you can improve a 12.5 MPG SUV's mileage to 14.3 MPG (+1.8 MPG), that will save 1 gallon per 100 miles. Exactly as much as putting a hybrid in a Prius-type vehicle. The +1.8 MPG and +17 MPG represent the same fuel savings. (Yes you can save more by switching from the SUV to the econobox, but that has nothing to do with hybrids nor is it a viable option for people who might need the SUV.)

        Likewise if you can improve a tractor trailer's 6.25 MPG to 6.67 MPG (+0.42 MPG), that also saves 1 gallon per 100 miles. This is why Elon Musk was so insistent on developing an electric tractor trailer. He understands that MPG is the inverse of fuel efficiency, and that the best way for the country to reduce it's fuel consumption is to improve the efficiency of low MPG vehicles.

    • We're also ignoring the cost of the damage caused by CO2 and by exhaust particulates. Good grief.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      one we promise will go away Real Soon Now.

      News flash to Americans: there exists a world outside America.

      Meanwhile, let's compare the Tesla Model 3, without any subsidies, to the similarly sized BMW 3-series. First off, which models to compare?

      Model 3 SR: 0-60=5,5s; BMW 330i: 0-60=5,4s
      Model 3 LR: 0-60=4,8s (Motor Trend)-5,1s(official); BMW 340i: 0-60 various measured at 4,8 and 5,1s.

      So now we have our comparison points; let's do the comparisons. Note for the below that the 3-series all have a 15,8gal tank,

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Oh, I should probably add: one of the options coming out next year for the Model 3 is the performance package. The pricing and specs aren't known, but based on a spy video, plus typical performance and pricing of options on Tesla's other lines over the years, most people are expecting it to be something like $15k and give a 0-60 somewhere in the 3-4 second range. That would be on top of the base LR (I doubt the SR pack could support it), so something like $60k. But we'll have to wait and see. As a genera

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @11:17AM (#55663853) Homepage Journal

      People pay piles of cash to subsidize ICE vehicles too.

      There are in fact two big piles, in fact. The first and larger pile is the non-governmental pile: this is the least visible pile because it's spread out over the population in things like medical bills. Air pollution in the US causes 16,000 premature births, and that alone costs the public 4.3 billion annually.. Overall cost to the US health care economy from ICE air pollution is on the order of $40 billion a year, conservatively. That's not counting the subjective costs of being sick or dying prematurely, it's straight up health spending.

      Many of the public costs of ICE nobody so far as I know have even attempted to quantify, like the cost of noise. The noise cost of ICE vehicles is mind-boggling if you think about it: just take the difference in value of a real estate property located on a noisy street vs. a quiet one and multiply that by all the properties which are exposed to high levels of traffic noise. Surprisingly noise pollution has a health cost too, estimated in the billions [ajpmonline.org] for heart disease alone.

      The second big pile is the government spending pile. This takes some explicit forms, such as the costs of drafting, monitoring and enforcing vehicle pollution regulations. But most of it is squirreled away under other headings. Do you really think that we'd spend a dime in the Middle East on defense if there were no oil there, or if oil were as worthless as sand?

      The externalized costs imposed public by internal combustion engine car are staggering. They're just as much public subsidies as any government program, and they're much larger than e-car subsidies. The only difference is that they aren't gathered into a single line item in the budget, which means we don't automatically have to argue for or against the fairness of that subsidy every year. In fact the burden distribution for ICE vehicle external costs is wildly arbitrary and unfair. It's just easy to ignore that.

      The whole point of e-vehicle subsidies is to bring down net externalized public costs for vehicles all types in the long term.

  • What about the fragile electric grid, you ask? [forbes.com]

    A recent analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggested that electric vehicles could account for half of all new cars sold by 2040. While electric vehicles consume electricity, they can also export power to the grid as mobile energy storage units. An increase in electric vehicle adoption may mean more flexibility for the grid to respond to supply and demand.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @08:19AM (#55663123)
    I can't afford Petrol or Diesel.
    • You jest, but that's a universal truth. Everytime someone mentions the price of "gasoline" you know they are paying far less for it than those people talking about the price of "petrol".

      At least in the west.

  • Taxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenh ( 9056 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @08:27AM (#55663143) Homepage Journal

    Let's not forget that in most markets electric cars get a free ride on public roadways. Gasoline taxes are collected to pay for the infrastructure combustion engines drive on, electricity has no such taxes so plug-in electrics pay no taxes based on usage, and hybrids only pay minimal taxes, based on the gasoline they use when the charge runs out.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      More like a double or triple ride. As you pointed out, there's no taxes being collected by gas. The electricity in the charging stations is "free" and I use that term loosely, because the actual cost of it is coming out of general taxes, or municipal taxes which have to offset that cost. There's also generally "transmission" taxes, and then taxes on the electricity itself which aren't being paid by people who are driving them.

      If electric car owners had to pay the price for electricity when using those st

      • Re:Taxes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday December 02, 2017 @08:52AM (#55663217) Journal

        Think of it as another way to subsidize new technology that may improve our future lives. Currently, there's not enough drivers using the free charging stations to create a taxing imbalance. When tax revenue is ultimately an issue for highway maintenance, one thing you can count on your local, state, and federal governors to do is figure out a way to tax electric vehicle usage.

        Advantages:

        The delivery logistics alone for petroleum-based fuels cannot economically compare to the efficiency of the national electrical grid.

        Electric vehicles can be charged during off-peak generation hours.

        Environmental savings alone by reducing/eliminating ICE emissions would more than offset electrical general pollution even if all new power was provided by the dirtiest coal buring plants.

        Battery technology is currently in its infancy, and whatever current efficiency projections are, it seems a safe gambit future electric vehicles will improve in efficiency dramatically.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Current superchargers are $0,20/kWh. But megachargers are announced to be $0,07/kWh. How? Wind and solar are dirt cheap nowadays, but you have to have some sort of peaking or storage with them, which ups the price. Super-high-power chargers need a battery buffer so that they don't have to pull crazy amounts of power off the grid at random intervals. When you combine the two, you get a two-for-one - the same buffer that buffers charging also buffers solar and wind. Also, Tesla's battery costs have been

    • by aevan ( 903814 )
      iow: Coming Soon: Tollways, the Everywhere ?
    • Gasoline taxes are collected to pay for the infrastructure combustion engines drive on

      Gasoline taxes are just collected. They don't even remotely cover the cost of infrastructure maintenance let alone the creation of new infrastructure, and there's no law saying exactly what they are to be spent on or that no other forms of funding for infrastructure exists.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      Gasoline taxes are collected to pay for the infrastructure combustion engines drive on

      Yet those taxes don't come close to paying for that infrastructure [uspirg.org]. And that is only one way that gasoline cars are subsidized.

  • Inconvienence (Score:2, Interesting)

    Considering the lurking question mark that exists the moment over your head when you buy an EV, "Will there be a situation where my car is not charged when I really need it?", I consider this an even trade-off. The thing that makes it uneven (and even unfair) is the fact that the public is paying for your use of that vehicle in terms of road maintenance costs you aren't contributing to and subsidies you are getting. The whole situation stinks. EVs should stand on their own in the market or not exist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kanweg ( 771128 )

      Yes, as soon as the kid has grown up, it has to do exactly that. Until then, we don't force the kid to work and don't tax him. Just like human kids.

      Bert

    • Considering the lurking question mark that exists the moment over your head

      We already do. When we buy and use EVs we think of that lurking question mark that exists over *your* head (anti-EV fluffernutter's head), and then we laugh at the ridiculousness of your statements.

    • Considering the lurking question mark that exists the moment over your head when you buy an EV, "Will there be a situation where my car is not charged when I really need it?",

      Not really. Not owning a car raises the question "is there some time I need a car right now and don't have one", and the answer is "perhaps, but I deal with it". Even when I did own a car, I can't think of a single time when I had a huge emergency for which I had to travel right the fuck now right after a long journey.

      That kind of thin

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      The thing that makes it uneven (and even unfair) is the fact that the public is paying for your use of that vehicle in terms of road maintenance costs you aren't contributing to and subsidies you are getting.

      If you find that upsetting, consider that virtually all road damage caused by vehicles is done by heavy trucks, but they hardly pay more to offset that. Those costs should be paid by transportation companies and wind up baked into the cost of goods, which would permit purchasing decisions which reflect the true state of the world. Instead, everyone has to pay those costs, even people who don't buy goods which are transported long distances.

  • How much does an electric minivan cost, what's it's passenger capacity, and how much does it cost?

  • The tax revenue loss for gas will have to be made up somewhere. Roads don't pave and maintain themselves.

    • We could say the same for CO2. The current level of CO2 world-wide CO2 emission is not sustainable and we will have to drastically reduce the number of ICE cars.
      You are not paying the full price when you drive an electric car. But neither are you when you drive a gas car when you count the pollution.

      • In the US, 70% of electricity is generated by coal or fossil fuels. When you plug your EV in to the electrical grid, you make use of the power generated by coal & fossil fuels. While the vehicle itself doesn't directly output emissions, you are are still responsible for the creation of CO2 emissions.
    • ...The tax revenue loss for gas will have to be made up somewhere. ...

      The is already talk of moving to a tax per mile per weight of vehicle type of system.

  • Does the battery have to be recycled at the end of its life? How much does that cost?
    • Look at your current 12 volt automotive battery: It's worth some scrap value when you can no longer use it in the vehicle. Recycling batteries shouldn't cost anything, since it typically saves over the mining of replacement materials.

      Preppers will gladly take old automotive battery packs off your hands, and you can bet there will be a "core" charge when you have to purchase a new one.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Indeed. Nobody is going to throw away a giant box of nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. People aren't in the habit of throwing away money.

  • I notice that the projection in ownership costs is only for four years. I do have to wonder if they chose that time frame because of the five year warranty some Electric Vehicle manufacturers have on the battery pack. If you factor in a battery pack replacement to those costs for the longer term running of an electric vehicle, then those figures don't look so rosy for EVs.

    I also wonder if they have factored in the cost of installing high output charging outlets in homes to accommodate electric vehicles.
    • Fossil fuels are going to run out, so the switch to electric is going to happen anyway. The earlier we start upgrading the grid, the more time we have for the transition.

      The big advantage of electric is that you become flexible in energy generation, and with a big fleet of electric cars charging on the net, there's plenty of room to soak up excess solar and wind (which aren't very expensive as you claimed).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jerry33 ( 5177843 )
      "However, upgrading a residential switchboard to handle a high output EV charger is a significant expense, and one that reasonably needs to be factored into the total cost of owning an EV. " Installing a 240V outlet is not expensive. To put a NEMA 14-50 on to an existing 200 AMP service is typically between $200 to $400. This is enough to charge any EV overnight (e.g. 6-8 hours). Because most EV owners charge at night, when their other demands are lower, there's no issue. In addition the urban environment
  • >"Electric Cars Are Already Cheaper To Own and Run Than Petrol Or Diesel, Says Study"

    Is that INCLUDING replacing a $20,0000+ battery pack when it gives out after warranty? What exactly is the "trade-in" value of an electric car at that point? Is the 5-year-old car essentially "totaled"? Will it disposable like phones now seem to be?

    I love electric cars, and want one. They have far fewer things to replace and "maintain" compared to ICE cars, and electricity as a fuel is cheap compared to gasoline. Bu

    • Is that INCLUDING replacing a $20,0000+ battery pack when it gives out after warranty?

      Buy a Hyundai, they are offering a transferable lifetime battery warranty.

      But massive, complex battery packs are VERY expensive.

      Who told you that? They're a small fraction of the cost of the unibody.

  • If you want the cheapest car to operate, buy an electric. But a hybrid or electric are not the cheapest to buy and nobody is recommending you buy a used Prius or something similar. There's a segment of the market who isn't concerned about such things which is why Chevrolet is bringing out a new 755 horsepower Corvette ZR1. The fuel mileage is atrocious, it costs $120k and they'll probably sell as many as they can make. Some people get excited over that while others want a blender on wheels. Go figure.

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