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from Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports

Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports
Bengt Halvorson
BENGT HALVORSON SEPTEMBER 25, 2020


Electric vehicles are often sold and promoted on the basis that they’ll cost less to maintain and repair versus gasoline-powered vehicles.
In a whitepaper released Thursday, the consumer advocacy organization behind Consumer Reports, informed by CR’s reliability survey data, tested that boilerplate assumption against its real-world data, finding that electric vehicle drivers are typically saving big—an average of 50% versus equivalent gas vehicles, over the life of the vehicle.

Perhaps even more surprising among CR’s findings is that plug-in hybrids cost less to maintain and repair than conventional gasoline vehicles—actually undercutting EVs in those costs after passing 100,000 miles.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

It’s an unexpected advantage because typically, plug-in hybrids are more mechanically complex than either other type of powertrain, with more potential components to break or require maintenance attention. They often, for instance, combine a conventional engine and transmission, in all of their complexity, and add a battery pack, power electronics, motors, and sometimes additional clutch packs.

Crunching its numbers for the entire vehicle fleet, but split up by powertrain type, CR found that both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles cost 3 cents a mile to maintain and repair, while other internal combustion vehicles cost 6 cents per mile to maintain and repair.

That amounts to a lifetime maintenance-cost total of $4,600 for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, or $9,200 for traditional gasoline models. Vehicle lifetime, as defined by the analysis, was 200,000 miles.

Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020
Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020

Consumer Reports doesn’t offer a reason for PHEVs’ advantage. Perhaps there is a sweet spot to be discussed in how the electrified components avoid wear to the traditional powertrain items—and, perhaps, extend the life of items like braking systems through regenerative braking. Or perhaps the repairs and maintenance simply cost more for EVs when needed.

This could be a continuation of a longtime trend. Some years ago, CarMD tracked that repair costs for hybrids were falling, while they were rising for other gasoline vehicles.

CR notes that its sample size of PHEVs and EVs with more than 100,000 miles was small—with the EVs mostly including early versions of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. With a total of 200 PHEV vehicles that have more than 100,000 miles, it also likely didn’t have a sample set that represented all the different layouts for these widely varied vehicles.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019
2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019

The data is based on annual surveys from hundreds of thousands of vehicle owners about real-world reliability and costs.

The organization notes that it filtered out responses that were incomplete, as well as feedback on outlier vehicles—ones that traveled less than 2,000 miles or more than 60,000 in a year, and vehicles that reported more than $20,000 in maintenance costs in the past year.

It also accounted for any bias based on the brands of vehicles purchased by CR members versus those purchased by the public at large, by reweighting its results according to market-share data from Wards Intelligence.
 

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from Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports

Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports
Bengt Halvorson
BENGT HALVORSON
SEPTEMBER 25, 2020


Electric vehicles are often sold and promoted on the basis that they’ll cost less to maintain and repair versus gasoline-powered vehicles.
In a whitepaper released Thursday, the consumer advocacy organization behind Consumer Reports, informed by CR’s reliability survey data, tested that boilerplate assumption against its real-world data, finding that electric vehicle drivers are typically saving big—an average of 50% versus equivalent gas vehicles, over the life of the vehicle.

Perhaps even more surprising among CR’s findings is that plug-in hybrids cost less to maintain and repair than conventional gasoline vehicles—actually undercutting EVs in those costs after passing 100,000 miles.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

It’s an unexpected advantage because typically, plug-in hybrids are more mechanically complex than either other type of powertrain, with more potential components to break or require maintenance attention. They often, for instance, combine a conventional engine and transmission, in all of their complexity, and add a battery pack, power electronics, motors, and sometimes additional clutch packs.

Crunching its numbers for the entire vehicle fleet, but split up by powertrain type, CR found that both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles cost 3 cents a mile to maintain and repair, while other internal combustion vehicles cost 6 cents per mile to maintain and repair.

That amounts to a lifetime maintenance-cost total of $4,600 for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, or $9,200 for traditional gasoline models. Vehicle lifetime, as defined by the analysis, was 200,000 miles.

Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020
Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020

Consumer Reports doesn’t offer a reason for PHEVs’ advantage. Perhaps there is a sweet spot to be discussed in how the electrified components avoid wear to the traditional powertrain items—and, perhaps, extend the life of items like braking systems through regenerative braking. Or perhaps the repairs and maintenance simply cost more for EVs when needed.

This could be a continuation of a longtime trend. Some years ago, CarMD tracked that repair costs for hybrids were falling, while they were rising for other gasoline vehicles.

CR notes that its sample size of PHEVs and EVs with more than 100,000 miles was small—with the EVs mostly including early versions of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. With a total of 200 PHEV vehicles that have more than 100,000 miles, it also likely didn’t have a sample set that represented all the different layouts for these widely varied vehicles.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019
2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019

The data is based on annual surveys from hundreds of thousands of vehicle owners about real-world reliability and costs.

The organization notes that it filtered out responses that were incomplete, as well as feedback on outlier vehicles—ones that traveled less than 2,000 miles or more than 60,000 in a year, and vehicles that reported more than $20,000 in maintenance costs in the past year.

It also accounted for any bias based on the brands of vehicles purchased by CR members versus those purchased by the public at large, by reweighting its results according to market-share data from Wards Intelligence.
I've been a subscriber since the 1960s because it's a great way to educate before a high dollar purchase.
 

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Just read the article and wondered how CR, which I subscribe to came up with their findings:

On an ICE for 50,000 the cost is $.028 per mile or $1,400.

The only difference in maintenance between an ICE and EV over the first 50,000 miles is:

  • oil change and filter every 7,500, @$50 a change, 7 changes $350
  • brakes maybe, (?) $300
Everything else is the same: cabin filters, wiper blades, tires, etc. so that totals $650 not $1400.

So unless CR gives a breakdown on the $1400 this is not really very reliable.
 

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Just read the article and wondered how CR, which I subscribe to came up with their findings:

On an ICE for 50,000 the cost is $.028 per mile or $1,400.

The only difference in maintenance between an ICE and EV over the first 50,000 miles is:

  • oil change and filter every 7,500, @$50 a change, 7 changes $350
  • brakes maybe, (?) $300
Everything else is the same: cabin filters, wiper blades, tires, etc. so that totals $650 not $1400.

So unless CR gives a breakdown on the $1400 this is not really very reliable.
The article says data is based on hundreds of thousands of CR surveys.
 

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The article says data is based on hundreds of thousands of CR surveys.
On the one side we have an independent testing laboratory (CU) that's been around since the 1930s surveying hundreds of thousands of owners from all over the USA. On the other a rightfully entitled to personal opinion. I think that on this one I got to go with CR on the reliability factor. However, "It's Only My Opinion, I Could Be Wrong"
 

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On the one side we have an independent testing laboratory (CU) that's been around since the 1930s surveying hundreds of thousands of owners from all over the USA. On the other a rightfully entitled to personal opinion. I think that on this one I got to go with CR on the reliability factor. However, "It's Only My Opinion, I Could Be Wrong"
Today's cars are warranted for either 3 years or 4 years, 36,000 miles to 50,000 miles, transmissions and engines 100K miles.

You are correct that it is my opinion. If you disagree, then please enlighten me as to what the other maintenance Items I have omitted that would more than double the cost from $650 to $1,400.

.
 

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Today's cars are warranted for either 3 years or 4 years, 36,000 miles to 50,000 miles, transmissions and engines 100K miles.

You are correct that it is my opinion. If you disagree, then please enlighten me as to what the other maintenance Items I have omitted that would more than double the cost from $650 to $1,400.

.
On an economy car you're not getting close to $1400 in routine maintenance items that don't happen on an EV. On a luxury/sports car you are blasting past that. $1400 may be a reasonable model average.
 

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On an economy car you're not getting close to $1400 in routine maintenance items that don't happen on an EV. On a luxury/sports car you are blasting past that. $1400 may be a reasonable model average.
Interesting but I do not think so:

For every Mercedes sold, there are at least 7 to 10 mid priced cars sold where the maintenance is as I posted, less than $700 for the first 50k miles.
 

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Interesting but I do not think so:

For every Mercedes sold, there are at least 7 to 10 mid priced cars sold where the maintenance is as I posted, less than $700 for the first 50k miles.
We need a Consumer Reports subscriber to read the original article, which I’m sure has a lot more detail than this article discussing it.
 

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from Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports

Plug-in hybrids and EVs cost less to maintain and repair, finds Consumer Reports
Bengt Halvorson
BENGT HALVORSON
SEPTEMBER 25, 2020


Electric vehicles are often sold and promoted on the basis that they’ll cost less to maintain and repair versus gasoline-powered vehicles.
In a whitepaper released Thursday, the consumer advocacy organization behind Consumer Reports, informed by CR’s reliability survey data, tested that boilerplate assumption against its real-world data, finding that electric vehicle drivers are typically saving big—an average of 50% versus equivalent gas vehicles, over the life of the vehicle.

Perhaps even more surprising among CR’s findings is that plug-in hybrids cost less to maintain and repair than conventional gasoline vehicles—actually undercutting EVs in those costs after passing 100,000 miles.


2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

It’s an unexpected advantage because typically, plug-in hybrids are more mechanically complex than either other type of powertrain, with more potential components to break or require maintenance attention. They often, for instance, combine a conventional engine and transmission, in all of their complexity, and add a battery pack, power electronics, motors, and sometimes additional clutch packs.

Crunching its numbers for the entire vehicle fleet, but split up by powertrain type, CR found that both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles cost 3 cents a mile to maintain and repair, while other internal combustion vehicles cost 6 cents per mile to maintain and repair.

That amounts to a lifetime maintenance-cost total of $4,600 for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, or $9,200 for traditional gasoline models. Vehicle lifetime, as defined by the analysis, was 200,000 miles.

Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020
Maintenance and repair costs by powertrain type - Consumer Reports - Sept 2020

Consumer Reports doesn’t offer a reason for PHEVs’ advantage. Perhaps there is a sweet spot to be discussed in how the electrified components avoid wear to the traditional powertrain items—and, perhaps, extend the life of items like braking systems through regenerative braking. Or perhaps the repairs and maintenance simply cost more for EVs when needed.

This could be a continuation of a longtime trend. Some years ago, CarMD tracked that repair costs for hybrids were falling, while they were rising for other gasoline vehicles.

CR notes that its sample size of PHEVs and EVs with more than 100,000 miles was small—with the EVs mostly including early versions of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. With a total of 200 PHEV vehicles that have more than 100,000 miles, it also likely didn’t have a sample set that represented all the different layouts for these widely varied vehicles.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019
2019 Nissan Leaf Plus - Driven, March 2019

The data is based on annual surveys from hundreds of thousands of vehicle owners about real-world reliability and costs.

The organization notes that it filtered out responses that were incomplete, as well as feedback on outlier vehicles—ones that traveled less than 2,000 miles or more than 60,000 in a year, and vehicles that reported more than $20,000 in maintenance costs in the past year.

It also accounted for any bias based on the brands of vehicles purchased by CR members versus those purchased by the public at large, by reweighting its results according to market-share data from Wards Intelligence.
Very interesting.

It is hard to imagine why the BEVs' costs would rise so much from 100k to 200k miles, while the PHEVs' costs rise much more slowly. I'd love to know more...
 

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Today's cars are warranted for either 3 years or 4 years, 36,000 miles to 50,000 miles, transmissions and engines 100K miles.

You are correct that it is my opinion. If you disagree, then please enlighten me as to what the other maintenance Items I have omitted that would more than double the cost from $650 to $1,400.

.
I don't disagree, I simply stated that to say that CR in the article on hundreds of thousand of persons surveyed and data from Car MD and the exclusions by CR to which vehicles were not used isn't reliable and costs based on my opinion or any opinion is potentially more reliable isn't something that I would base my decisions on. While many of the posts, mine included are opinion, my comment was pointing out that it's one thing to state that something needs clarification and another to say that an entire published survey by a testing lab is not reliable is another. If I point out items that will be out of warranty on my Fusion 3 years 36K that may or may not have been in their calculations it would be a guess with no real data to back it up. Once again I did not state that you were incorrect I simply stated that I lean toward the figures provided in the CR article as having more weight.
 

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As I posted I have been a subscriber for over 40 years.

I will be happy to post details.

.
I tried to locate the article at CR Online but was unsuccessful maybe you might be able to track it down. I participate in the annual survey but I generally change vehicles during the warranty period and I haven't had any ICE vs PHEV issues. I would enjoy reading about the actual cost breakdown but I'm not certain that they would get that far 'into the weeds' because the article seemed to be a general FYI confirming that EVs and PHEVs are less costly to maintain. Maybe you'll be more successful in your search.
 

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I tried to locate the article at CR Online but was unsuccessful maybe you might be able to track it down.
Click on the article link in Post #1, then click on “white paper” link early in the article. For the vehicles over 100,000 miles the sample size was low. Most of those vehicles were early Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S vehicles.
 

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Click on the article link in Post #1, then click on “white paper” link early in the article. For the vehicles over 100,000 miles the sample size was low. Most of those vehicles were early Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S vehicles.
With EV the sample I suspect was so small as to be meaningless:

  • How many owners of Tesla Model S with 200,000 miles and subscribe to CR and responded to the survey are there?
  • Same thing with the Nissan Lear
I suspect very few!
 

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Just read the article and wondered how CR, which I subscribe to came up with their findings:

On an ICE for 50,000 the cost is $.028 per mile or $1,400.

The only difference in maintenance between an ICE and EV over the first 50,000 miles is:

  • oil change and filter every 7,500, @$50 a change, 7 changes $350
  • brakes maybe, (?) $300
Everything else is the same: cabin filters, wiper blades, tires, etc. so that totals $650 not $1400.

So unless CR gives a breakdown on the $1400 this is not really very reliable.
Unless I don't understand the table, the difference between ice and bev is 1.6 cents per mile or $800 more in the first 50k miles.

More than $650, granted.
 

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Unless I don't understand the table, the difference between ice and bev is 1.6 cents per mile or $800 more in the first 50k miles.

More than $650, granted.
I do not even understand the maintenance on the EV:

  • No oil to change
  • No oil filter to change
  • No lubrication
Exactly what even cost $800?

To me this entire survey does not make sense.
 

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I do not even understand the maintenance on the EV:

  • No oil to change
  • No oil filter to change
  • No lubrication
Exactly what even cost $800?

To me this entire survey does not make sense.
First, I am also skeptical of some of these numbers. Agreed.

You can maybe figure $600-$700 over four years and 50k miles of you allow for one set of tires and three sets of wiper blades.

The way I drive, I would be halfway through that second set of tires, but, of course, ymmv. :)
 
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