Electric vehicle running costs for 2019

Tesla Model X 100D parked on street with doors open.

Tim Nicholson

Posted November 16, 2020

RACV reveals the true costs of buying and running electric vehicles in 2019.

RACV’s 2019 Driving Your Dollars survey has found that the average cost of owning and running a battery electric vehicle (BEV) in Australia is decreasing as more affordable electrified models hit the market.

The survey reveals the true cost of owning and operating some of Australia’s best-selling models; the breakdown of these hidden costs is then calculated as a weekly charge, inclusive of the initial purchase price.

Buying a BEV in Australia in 2019 is still an expensive exercise, with initial purchase prices still relatively high. While battery costs are coming down globally, BEVs are still some way off matching the price tag of an equivalent petrol or diesel-powered car.

For example, the price of a Hyundai Kona Electric starts at $59,990 plus on-road costs – more than $20,000 pricier than the equivalent top-spec petrol-powered Kona Highlander.

However, when you factor in running costs, the BEV equation starts to make more sense.

The average weekly cost to own and run a BEV in 2019 is $319.30 per week. But when you remove the two most expensive models (by some margin) from the equation – the Tesla Model S and Model X – the cost drops to $242 per week to run. This is a big improvement over last year’s results which saw an average of $394 per week, or $278.53 without the Teslas.

The cost savings kick in when you compare fuel prices for a petrol or diesel-powered car with the price of charging an electric vehicle.

According to the results, the average weekly cost of charging an EV (inclusive of some fuel costs for the Outlander PHEV) is $11.70 per week. Whereas the weekly average fuel costs of a medium SUV, for example, is $28.37.

As EVs require less frequent servicing and have fewer moving parts to monitor and fix, the cost of servicing is significantly lower for an EV compared to a petrol or diesel vehicle.

Reflecting the increase in activity in Australia’s growing electric vehicle sector, this year’s EV category expanded to include new models such as the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Renault Zoe.

Other models carrying over from last year’s Driving Your Dollars survey include the BMW i3, albeit with more battery capacity, the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X. Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) also returns and is the only model in the category with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. (RACV followed the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries standards for vehicle categories, which references the Outlander as an electric vehicle.)

The most affordable EV to own and run is the Hyundai Ioniq Electric Elite. The small hatchback launched in Australia late last year in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric guise, the latter of which will cost owners an average of $193.05 per week. It also has the lowest purchase price of any EVs currently on sale in Australia.

The figure means that the Ioniq Electric is cheaper to run than all of the petrol-powered medium SUVs in this year’s survey, as well as all of the medium passenger cars, except the Toyota Camry Ascent Sport Hybrid.

The next most affordable EV in Australia is the Renault Zoe Intens with an average weekly cost of $218.08. As with all the cars on the list, the initial purchase price is relatively high ($49,490 before on-road costs), but the cost difference of charging instead of refuelling, as well as lower servicing and maintenance costs, lowers the average considerably.

The Outlander PHEV was third on $243.56, followed by the recently launched Hyundai Kona Electric Highlander on $260.15.

BMW’s i3 120Ah maintained a similar cost to last year with an average of $295.37, but it was pushed to fifth on the list because of the inclusion of the newer, more affordable models in 2019.

By far the most expensive EVs to own and run are the two Teslas, which is a result of their higher price tags compared with the other models in the category.

The Model S 100D sedan will cost $510.54 to own and run. It retails for $141,400 before on-roads. The Model X 100D SUV is priced from $146,000 before on-roads, and has an average weekly cost of $514.36.

With the rollout of EVs gaining pace in Australia, it’s reasonable to expect the average cost of owning an EV will continue to drop.