How to tell if an electric car is worth the cost

if an electric car is worth the cost

How can you tell if an electric car is worth the cost — which is higher than a normal car. Our guide analyzes all the factors for comparison. The prices for electric cars are often still comparatively high. But is it worth switching in the long run? 

The online marketplace for car repairs, car butlers, got to the bottom of this question. We analyzed the acquisition and maintenance costs of cars with comparable performance characteristics from three vehicle segments over ten years each. The result: In the cases examined to determine if an electric car is worth the cost, electric mobility is only clearly worthwhile in the luxury class.

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Analysis to see if an electric car is worth the cost

see if an electric car is worth the cost

We compared Volkswagen models in both the small car and the compact class. Both the VW-up! TSI OPF and its electrically motorized counterpart, the e-up !, as well as the Golf (TSI ACT OPF) – and the e-Golf. In the luxury class, the Model S Long Range from Tesla faces off with the latest Porsche Panamera 4S.

An overview of the vehicle properties

modelVW e-up!VW up! TSI OPFVW E-GolfVW TSI ACTTesla Model S Long RangePorsche Panamera 4S
Class (KBA)microcarsmicrocarscompact classcompact classupper classupper class
Power in KW (PS)60 (82)66 (90)100 (136)96 (130)310 (422)324 (440)
top speed130185150210250289
Range (in km)147722228909632847
Construction period since10/201309/201602/201706/201701/201703/2019

An overview of the acquisition costs

modelVW e-up!VW up! TSI OPFVW E-GolfVW TSI ACTTesla Model S Long RangePorsche Panamera 4S
Purchase costs $ 124,354 13,67537,59926,300 91,279 120,530

1 made up of the list price (including basic equipment), the cost of a charging station and a set of winter tires

Result: The acquisition costs of electric vehicles are up to 50 percent more expensive.

The main reason for this is the still high purchase costs of electric vehicles due to expensive batteries and low demand. This is particularly evident in the small car class. Here the list price of the basic equipment of the electric motorized car (VW e-up!) Including charging station in the examined case is almost 50 percent higher than that of the comparable petrol engine (VW up!). The state purchase incentives have not yet been able to compensate for this, although the federal and state governments in Germany are promoting the purchase of electric vehicles with a one-time environmental bonus of 4,000 euros and a ten-year exemption from vehicle tax.

In the compact car class, the purchase costs for the electrically powered passenger car (VW e-Golf) are still only around 28 percent higher than those of the petrol-powered counterpart (VW Golf). The upper-class vehicles examined in the analysis separated price differences of almost 24 percent, whereby the petrol engine (Porsche Panamera 4S) is more expensive to buy than the compared electric car (Tesla Model S Long Range).

An overview of the annual maintenance costs

modelVW e-up!VW up! TSI OPFVW E-GolfVW TSI ACTTesla Model S Long RangePorsche Panamera 4S
Maintenance costs  $21,300 2,068 1,825 2,522 4,584 5,688

2 are made up of the energy costs (with a mileage of 15,000 km), fully comprehensive insurance costs, maintenance costs and vehicle tax

Maintenance: energy costs sometimes more than twice as cheap

At the same time, however, electric cars benefit from significantly lower maintenance costs, which is mainly due to the comparatively low electricity costs. As a result, around 83 percent can be saved in the maintenance of the compared e-cars with an annual mileage of 15,000 kilometers in the compact car class, around 100 percent in the small car class and even 145 percent in the luxury class. That alone can reduce the annual maintenance costs by 690 to 1,100 euros. Owners of electric cars can also save on maintenance. For example, an oil change in electromobility is a thing of the past.

Electric car owners only have to pay the insurance company. Fully comprehensive insurance is between 10 and 28 percent higher for the examined electric vehicles than for the petrol-powered models. Partial comprehensive insurance can reduce these costs, but it also covers significantly less damage.

The total cost

modelVW e-up!VW up! TSI OPFVW E-GolfVW TSI ACTTesla Model S Long RangePorsche Panamera 4S
Cost after 5 years $26,855 24,01742,725 38,909 114,197 148,970
Cost after 10 years $33,356 34,35951,85151,517 137,116 177,409

After five years, electric cars do not pay off, sometimes after ten years

Taking into account acquisition and maintenance costs, an electric car in the small and compact car class is still around 10 percent more expensive after five years than a petrol engine with similar performance. After ten years, however, the costs in the compact car class have evened out, the compared small electric car is then almost three percent cheaper. The analyzed premium-class electric car is cheaper throughout the entire period.

For owners of electric vehicles, in addition to environmental protection, financial aspects can also provide a reason for purchasing. Despite state subsidies in some areas, electric cars are currently only profitable in the long term. Our analysis shows that electric motorized vehicles in the luxury class can pay off from the date of purchase, but in the small and compact car class, vehicle owners have to wait at least ten years to save money.