A surprising comparison

How expensive actually is an electric car?

Electric cars have long had the reputation of being more expensive than combustion cars. But this is a thing of the past. If you precisely calculate all of the costs involved, the answer is clear: electromobility is actually cheaper!

 

The transition to electromobility is in full swing: there are significantly more models and charging stations available than there were a few years ago, and this is making it increasingly easy for drivers to make the switch.  In addition, the preconceptions that many have had about electric vehicles are gradually being dispelled, something that this article also demonstrates.

Total costs add up in favour of electric cars

One of the preconceptions being eradicated is that of cost. It is commonly thought that electric vehicles are more expensive than combustion cars. But is this still the case? According to a TCO (total cost of ownership)  analysis conducted by TCS using numerous electric vehicle models, electric cars usually come off better in terms of long-term running costs than a comparable petrol vehicle (see the example below).

A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) confirmed this. It states that electric cars will be cheaper than comparable combustion models in all vehicle categories by 2027 at the latest.

Increasingly affordable

This development is being helped by the fact that the prices for lithium-ion batteries have continued to sink over the last decade, which, combined with the increasing range and numbers of electric vehicles, has had an impact on the end cost. For Mathias Gabler, Managing Director of AMAG Retail, the situation is clear: ‘electric cars are really not that expensive any more’, he explained in this interview. ‘A ŠKODA ENYAQ iV, for example, costs the same as the ŠKODA KAROQ, a comparable combustion model.' He added that the Audi Q4 electric model is also at the same price level as the equivalent combustion SUV. ‘We are already at a good price level. And it will get even better’, Mathias Gabler affirmed. The same goes for the VW ID.3 if you compare it to the Golf.

Maintenance is cheaper

It is also worth highlighting that as well as electric vehicles being cheaper to buy, they are also cheaper to maintain. This is because there is a lengthy list of things that are missing on an electric vehicle compared to a traditional combustion vehicle; it has no spark plugs, exhaust pipe, gearbox, radiator, clutch, or air and oil filters. These are all parts that are often the cause of expensive repairs and add up to a significant cost difference. Overall, the costs associated with maintaining electric vehicles are about one third lower than those for combustion engines, as calculated by the German Institute for the Automotive Industry (IFA). It is also noteworthy that brake discs and pads last longer in electric cars as they recover energy through recuperation instead of losing it via braking.

Charging costs less, but is reliant on various other factors

Another advantage is the ‘fuel’ costs of electric cars. It is important to note that this of course depends greatly on the specific vehicle being charged. Do you have a charging point (Wallbox) in the garage and can make the most of having cheap electricity, perhaps even from solar panels? Or do you have to rely on charging the vehicle using public charging stations? As a guide, the following applies when using these stations: A full charge at a high rate costs between 12 and 20 Swiss francs depending on the model, and at a low rate just under 10. At quick charging stations, the price per KWh is higher on average. But the bottom line is that an electric car always works out cheaper when it comes to ‘fuel’ compared to cars with combustion engines.

Tax and insurance benefits

It is not only savings at the pump that make going electric beneficial. You can save money when it comes to taxes and insurance too. In many of the Swiss cantons, owners of electric cars benefit from subsidies or promotion schemes. These may take the form of contributions towards the cost of the electric vehicles themselves or having the road tax (partially) waived. Another possibility is receiving financial help with the cost of installing a charging point at home. A discount is also given when you take out insurance for your electric car.

Cost comparison: VW ID.3 vs VW Golf

For our price comparison comparing the cost of the electric VW ID.3 (Pro Performance) and its combustion counterpart, the VW Golf (2.0 TDI 4 Motion Life), we have used Zurich as the canton of reference for taxes and insurance. In this canton, electric car owners do not have to pay any road tax until 2024.

So that the two models can be compared properly, we chose an automatic Golf and ensured both had the same horsepower (150). The purchase price for each model is also the same at just under 40,000 Swiss francs. Our calculation is based on the TCS comparison calculator and assumes a life expectancy of 10 years and an annual distance travelled of 15,000 kilometres. This shows that the VW ID.3 comes out on top price-wise from the word go.

Vergleich

VW ID.3

  • Purchase price: 37,600            
  • Depreciation: 1,128             
  • Amortisation: 3,384              
  • Charging/fuel: 582               
  • Maintenance: 570                
  • Tyres: 537               
  • Insurance: 949                
  • Taxes: 0/379*           
  • Ancillary costs: 298                 
  • Valeting: 150                
  • Parking costs: 1,560            
  • Interest: 19                 
  • TOTAL cost per year: 9,427 CHF
  • Cost per month: 796             
  • *0 Swiss francs until 31 December 2024, 379 Swiss francs thereafter
  • Source: TCS

VW Golf

  • Purchase price: 39,600
  • Depreciation: 1,188
  • Amortisation: 3,564
  • Charging/fuel: 1,239
  • Maintenance: 836
  • Tyres: 567
  • Insurance: 1,034
  • Taxes: 308
  • Ancillary costs: 298
  • Valeting: 150
  • Parking costs: 1,560
  • Interest: 20
  • TL cost p. year:  10,763 CHF
  • Cost per month: 896
  • Source: TCS

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