EVs Cost More to Own Than ICE, AAA Study Says

Ownership costs are on average $600 a year higher for a BEV than with vehicles using ICE powertrains a study by American Automobile Association (AAA) has concluded.

Its research considered car ownership over a five year period and 75,000 miles of driving and employed the AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study methodology when calculating the costs for owning a new compact BEV as compared to that of its gasoline-powered equivalent. The findings took into account that certain vehicle consumable costs, such as fuel and maintenance servicing, are cheaper with EV than ICE yet overall ownership costs were on average 8% higher for the electric powertrained vehicle. Over 15,000 miles a year, a gas-powered car costs an average of $1,255 in fuel while an EV costs an average of $546 in electricity charges. At the same time annual EV maintenance costs were estimated at $949 while ICE saw bills of $1,279 annually.

However, taking into the AAA’s cost of ownership methodology, including insurance, finance and, most crucially, depreciation, ICE comes out top as the value-for-money choice. It’s likely that over a longer ownership model, reflecting more accurately a private ownership term these days, the residual value will impact even more on the BEV which will suffer from battery degradation and a vastly reduced potential range.

Even many automakers today offer a performance warranty of their BEVs of 99,999 miles or eight years but only covering 70% of the battery’s performance. That is akin to the same carmakers only guaranteeing their ICE vehicles over the same period and mileage to run on three out of the four cylinders!

The EVs pitched into the study included: Chevrolet Bolt (LT), Hyundai Ionic Electric (Base), Kia Soul EV (+), Nissan Leaf (SV) and Volkswagen eGolf (SE). The 2019 internal combustion engine vehicles selected for the comparison were: Chevrolet Cruze (LS), Honda Civic (LX), Hyundai Elantra (SE), Nissan Sentra (SV) and Toyota Corolla (SE).

On a happier note for the EV lobby, the AAA said its survey of electric owners found that 77% lost all concerns over range anxiety after purchase and that 95% had never run out of charge.


  1. Avatar Thomas Clements 1st August 2020 @ 4:10 pm

    I’m a bit skeptical of your findings, would like to see a detailed list of all criteria. Also curious why Tesla wasn’t included? From my research, a Tesla is cheaper to own than any ICE vehicle. Would like to see a comparison of Tesla vs ICE. Thank You

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 3rd August 2020 @ 7:25 am

      We were just reporting findings by the AAA so you will have to take up those issues with its figures.

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