The Cost of Going Electric

Posted: June 14, 2017
Tagged As: Asset Management, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles, Electricity, Energy, Fleet Management, GHG Emissions

Electric vehicles are quickly emerging as a competitor to their traditional fossil-fuelled brethren. Range is rapidly increasing, prices are decreasing, and new models are regularly coming to market. While the environmental benefit is clear, the financial considerations surrounding electric vehicle purchases can be a bit more hazy. This post will review a few of these financial considerations and their impact on municipal fleets. For the purpose of this blog post, we will take ‘EV’ to refer to both plug-in hybrid and pure battery electric vehicles.

Maintenance Costs

EVs require a lot less maintenance than their fossil-fuelled equivalents. No oil changes, no spark plugs, and well over a thousand fewer moving parts. Regenerative braking uses the vehicle’s motors to recapture energy while slowing down, meaning brake pads are often good for the life of the vehicle. Electric batteries are self-maintaining, with many having liquid thermal control systems to keep the cells at the perfect temperature. These aren’t your typical cell phone batteries – capacity loss and failure rates are very low, with General Motors reporting a total of zero battery pack replacements since the Chevrolet Volt started shipping in 2011.  Most EVs have high warranties for electric components, like the Nissan Leaf’s 8 year/160,000km coverage for the battery.

Fuel Costs

Fuelling up an EV is where you will find the biggest cost savings. For comparison, we’ll use a 2017 Ford Focus as it comes in both gas and electric versions. The fuel cost to drive 10,000km in a gas Focus is $790 (assuming $1.00/L and 7.9L/100km). The fuel cost for an electric Focus running the same 10,000km is $154 (assuming $0.10/kWh and 0.154 kWh/km), a savings of 81%. Since electric vehicles often charge at night when energy rates are lowest, the potential exists for even greater savings.

Purchase Prices & Incentives

The high sticker price on a new electric vehicle can make the decision more difficult, but steadily dropping prices combined with provincial incentives are bringing the numbers closer together. To keep up with our Ford Focus comparison, a conventional Focus with 2.0L engine and automatic transmission has a base MSRP of $18,648. The electric version has a base MSRP of $31,990. Provincial incentives, however, cover $14,000 of that cost, taking the actual purchase price below the gas version to $17,990.

Range Considerations

Of course, the 185km the range of an electric Focus is not the same as that of a gas car. This car may be a perfect fit for your municipality, or it may not. Maybe a conventional hybrid like the Toyota Prius is best, perhaps a plug-in hybrid like the Hyundai Sonata PHEV would be a better pick. You may need the extended range of a Chevrolet Bolt, or you may be better off with the lower purchase price of a Mitsubishi iMiEV. Making those decisions can be difficult, which is where the LAS Fleet Management Service comes into play.

Selecting the Right Vehicle

We’ve partnered with Waterloo-based FleetCarma to provide the information needed to make sure your transition to electric vehicles is data driven and without surprises. FleetCarma will use data tracking devices to monitor each vehicle’s use over a period of time, after which it will simulate that same usage with a wide variety of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles. This system will make sure you end up with the right vehicle for the job, with both purchase and ongoing costs already known. Please contact Tanner Watt at LAS for a free no-obligation quote.

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