Are electric vehicles cheaper to run in the long term?

Basic facts about electric vehicles to answer questions often asked by people new to Battery Electric Vehicles
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Are electric vehicles cheaper to run in the long term?

Postby timpootle » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:38 pm

Again this is a difficult question to answer honestly. The day to day running costs are a lot cheaper (e.g. as of June 2008 in the UK about 30% of internal combustion engines), especially as fuel prices increase. However, the battery lease or replacement cost can be quite high.

As an example, the Berlingo Electrique is worst case vehicle using 20 KWHr to charge for 45 miles range.
At 10p/KWHr, gives £2/45 miles. Say an equivalent sized diesel van does 45 mpg on 1 gallon. Diesel cost is £5/gallon so relative cost is £2/£5 = 40%. Significantly more saving can be made if London congestion charges are also taken into account that can pay for initial capital outlay within a couple of years.
Tim Crumpton

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Postby Night Train » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:14 pm

These are the 'back of the envelope' calculations I came up with to see if it was cheaper to run electric then diesel.

Based on a load of assumptions and guess work I worked out that over a 2000 cycle life of my LiFePo4 batteries with a 70 mile range they would have driven 2000x70=140,000miles.
Assuming 40x200ah cells at approximately £1/ah that gives £8,000 for the cost of the battery pack.
The pack would have 25.6kWh and at 80% DoD it would be 20.48kWh. To recharge that amount per 70 mile trip would cost 20.48x0.15=£3.07 at 15p per kWh. Over the 2000 cycles that would be £6,140.
Total cost £13,140 giving 9.4 pence per mile.

Over 140,000 miles in my diesel car at 50mpg I would use 2800 gallons of fuel. Assume £5/gallon that would be £14,000 and 10 pence per mile.

Granted that the ICE will have higher maintenance costs and that both fuel supplies will increase in cost over the 140,000 miles it can be seen that it is not always a straight forward case of a financial saving in running an EV. If the EV had a complicated maintenance shedule with repairs to controller, charger and battery management, replacement cells, etc then the maintenance saving could be even less or non existent depending on how much labour on either vehicle could be done as DIY. The there is also the cost of conversion labour and parts on the EV donor.

At 140,000 miles the EV could be looking at a replacement battery pack. The diesel ICE car could do the same distance again, or more, on the same engine. Not a direct comparison as the EV's motor could outlast the ICE easily.

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