Car running costs 2021: Victoria's cheapest electric cars


Tim Nicholson

Posted September 08, 2021

Electric vehicles are coming down in price, but running costs are more affordable than you'd think.  

Zero and low emissions vehicles (ZLEV) have been a slow burn in Australia, but greater consumer awareness and a growing number of models has prompted a boost in eco-car sales. 

Hybrids are so popular that manufacturers like Toyota are reporting extended wait times for their petrol-electric variants. Already this year, more than 25,000 hybrids have found homes in Australia. 

Sales of electric vehicles (EV) have increased by 200 per cent so far in 2021 compared to January to July 2020, albeit off a very low base. In the first seven months of 2021, Australians bought almost as many EVs as they did in the entire 2020 calendar year. 

Plug-in hybrids are increasing in numbers too, up 99 per cent year on year, thanks to more new models.

According to RACV’s 2021 Vehicle Operating Costs survey, the average price of EV/PHEVs is $1280.83, per month, which is only $80 more than the average cost of medium SUVs. 

There is no doubt that the cost of entry is still high, particularly for EVs, but the prices are coming down, and more accessible models are on the horizon. Chinese brands MG Motor and BYD have signalled their intention to bring in cheaper electric hatchbacks in the coming years priced from around $35,000-$40,000. 

Despite the relatively high initial purchase price, servicing costs for EVs are generally lower than cars with internal combustion engines as they have far fewer moving parts. This is recognised in this year’s survey, with the average cost of servicing for EV/PHEVs cheaper than all other categories, even undercutting light cars by about $10 a month.  

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid Premium.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric Premium.

Most affordable electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles 

Before you ask, we only included mainstream brands in this year’s survey, which is why there are no Teslas here. 

Reflecting its status as the cheapest EV available in Australia, the MG ZS EV is the most affordable vehicle in this category, with an average monthly spend of $1128.33. The electric SUV retails for $40,990 before on-road costs. 

It might have had the lowest running costs last year, but the Hyundai Ioniq Premium Plug-In Hybrid is relegated to second this year on $1182.33. Another Ioniq, the Elite Electric, lands in third on $1250.30.

Mitsubishi recently announced that an all-new Outlander PHEV would be arriving in early 2022 to replace the ageing model, but until then, the current version will cost $1291.97 a month to own and run. 

Nissan’s Leaf hatchback is the second priciest on $1336.87, but the most expensive – largely due to its higher purchase price – is the Hyundai Kona Electric Elite on $1495.19.

Hyundai already has runs on the board when it comes to ZLEVs, but the Korean manufacturer is about to seriously ramp up its offerings with the imminent launch of the retro-futuristic Ioniq 5 all-electric medium SUV. In fact, Hyundai Australia executives recently confirmed plans to introduce every EV its parent company releases globally. Given the recent announcement of 23 new fully electric models by 2025, expect a few more to lob soon. 

Nissan is still yet to confirm if it will offer the striking Ariya electric SUV here, but it’s looking increasingly likely.  

See the full results for the electric vehicle category from this year's Vehicle Operating Costs survey.