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.

  2. Avatar springer22 8th January 2021 @ 9:22 am

    EV cannot compete ICE for longevity. ICE has no arbitrary limit on how long the car can be driven. For example average ICE car in Cuba is 60 years old and is still driven. However, for an EV, battery degradation puts absolute limit on life of the car, because nobody will buy a new main battery which costs $10K or more for a 10 year old EV. After battery gives out, EVs become scrap sold for parts, while ICEs can run as long as it’s economical to repair (which can be very long time).

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 8th January 2021 @ 10:17 am

      You are not alone in thinking this and some, such as author and analyst Guillaume Pitron writing in his book The Rare Metals War: The Dark Side Of the Energy Transition and Digitalization suggests there will accelerate global warming and, ultimately, become as big a scandal as Dieselgate.

    • Avatar Bob 13th April 2021 @ 2:17 pm

      In ten years, battery costs might be very different.

  3. Avatar Brad Vand 2nd April 2021 @ 11:27 pm

    “(EV warranty) 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!” No, that’s not a valid comparison at all. If you’ve ever driven a 4 cylinder ICE running on only 3 cylinders, you’d know that it is a very rough ride, yes, performance is down, but that’s not the real problem. When the EV makers guarantee 70% battery performance in the warranty to they’re talking about capacity, which affects range, not instantaneous power output. A more appropriate comparison would be to say the ICE’s fuel tank is at 70% of original capacity. Doesn’t sound nearly as bad, does it?

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 5th April 2021 @ 6:32 am

      Fair point, so taking your analogy the buyer of an ICE vehicle could expect its fuel tank, and therefore its potential range, to shrink over time? At least that owner would be able to replace the fuel tank at no great cost while the BEV owner is now looking at something well on its way to being junk…

  4. Avatar Edward Krufka 24th October 2021 @ 3:10 pm

    Misleading article title – shame on AAA and shame on this site for propagating the misleading title. Past is not prologue. Short-sighted to not add in the potential for fossil-fuel carbon taxes, restrictions for ICE vehicles in low-emission zones, and other pending penalties to ICE vehicles, or not mention them in this aticle.

  5. Avatar Herbie Wakabiashi 2nd July 2022 @ 1:55 am

    For the truest comparison of EV to ICE ownership costs the variable that is most important is the number of miles driven each year. There is a huge difference in overall longevity costs for vehicles driven 15,000 miles per year and vehicles driven 5,000 miles per year. The fewer miles per year the more the ICE vehicles trump the EVs. Mostly because of the upfront cost of buying the more expensive EVs, higher insurance rates, rapid depreciation, and higher local taxes. Even after 20 years at 5,000 miles per year the ICEs still come out ahead assuming the EV battery will last the 100,000 miles as advertised. ICEs today can last 200,000 to 300,000 miles if maintained. After 100,000 miles EVs aren’t worth the battery they will need.

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