Rateworks auto loan refinance
December 12, 2022

What Are the Hidden Costs of Owning an Electric Car?

If you’re considering switching from a gas-powered car to an electric one, you may be wondering about the hidden costs of owning an EV. Let’s go through what costs you can expect!

Owner with their electric car
Written by

Jennifer Moore

If you’re considering switching from a gas-powered car to an electric-powered vehicle, you might be wondering about the hidden costs of owning an electric car. You want to know what to expect, from the cost of charging at home versus at a charging station to the price of repair and maintenance. Let’s go through what costs you can expect!

How much is it to buy a new electric car versus a used electric car?

Electric cars can come at a range of price points. The newest models offer longer battery life and charging capacity, as well as more efficiency so you can get more miles out of each kilowatt. 

As of now, the lowest price for a new car we found was for a 2023 Chevrolet Bolt that came in at around 25.6k. On the higher end, a 2023 BMW iX will run you 84-108k. 

Currently, the used car market for all types of cars is more competitive than it’s been in years due to inflation and other economic stressors. But for that same Chevrolet Bolt, a 2017 model will run you 22k. Last year's BMW iX could go for as low as 78k. 

Check your local listings and visit your local new and used car dealers to see what’s available in your area. Also, remember that refinancing an auto loan can be a great way to gracefully take on new opportunities. 

Also, check out Kelly Blue Book’s list of do’s and don’ts of buying a used electric vehicle. Make sure you ask the right questions and get the answers you need to make an informed decision. 

Maintenance costs:

You may have heard that an electric car is less expensive to maintain, or you may assume, because they’re new tech, that repairing a new electric vehicle could cost you a pretty penny. We have good news on all of those fronts. 

How much does an electric car cost per month to maintain?

Charging your electric vehicle at home:

On a day-to-day basis, you’ll be paying for electricity. Instead of miles per gallon, mpg, we talk about kilowatts per hour, or kwh. 

Electricity is generally less expensive and less volatile than gasoline. But the prices do change depending on where you live. So for instance, the cost of electricity in Los Angeles is .25 kWh. But in Chicago, it’s $.132 kwh. 

Conservatively, we estimate that electric vehicles can go three miles for each kWh delivered. So if you want to go 100 miles in Los Angeles, you’d pay $8.3 if you charged at home. In Chicago, you’d only pay $4.4 dollars for the same trip. 

A hidden cost you may not have thought about is the cost to install a charging port that is compatible with your car. Charging ports that make charging faster might cost 800 to 2k to install, but that’s a one-time cost. Of course, if you have 20k to spend on installing solar panels on your home, your energy cost could be $0. 

An electric car charging

Charging your electric vehicle in public:

Public charging ports can be much more expensive than home electricity. They can also be free.

At the time of writing, costs for charging varied across the country. Prices range from $.2 to $.7 per kWh. Some charge per hour of charging. In San Diego, you can charge a car for two hours for only $3.30. In Miami, two hours of charging will cost you $4.75. In Austin, Texas, it’s a flat $2 per hour. Amongst the charging stations that charge, you can also find free charge-up stations.

Check out ChargePoint for a map of charging stations in your area and the costs.   

Monthly repairs: 

Electric vehicles don’t have many of the parts that gas-powered cars have, and so those parts can’t break down. You’ll never have to replace your alternator or radiator, and you’ll never have to change your oil. You’ll still need to keep up with wear and tear on your tires, lights, windshield wipers, breaks and suspension systems, of course.

If your vehicle is in an accident, and the battery is impacted, that damage could, essentially, total the car. Your battery will, over time, lose charge, so you’ll have to charge more often. And, because electric vehicles are new and not owned by a majority of households, many car repair shops either don’t service them or don’t service them well enough. The ones who do specialize in electric vehicles will charge more for this specialized service. 

Forbes reports that, for instance, a Hyundai Kona Electric SUV will cost roughly $734 in repairs and maintenance over five years. So your cost per month would be about $12, or $146 per year. A Porsche Taycan, on the other hand, might cost over 3k in maintenance in the same five years. 

How much does a gas-powered car cost per month to maintain?

Repair costs vary, but for a similar Hyundai Kona that’s gas powered, Forbes predicted roughly the same amount for routine maintenance, $730. 

Gas is the real cost here, and one we’re all familiar with. Gas prices are still really high. In Los Angeles, gas costs $4.7, and in Chicago, it costs $4 per gallon. For 100-mile trips in a car that gets the national average mpg of 24 mpg, in Los Angeles, you’d pay $19.5 and in Chicago, you’d pay $16. In an electric car, the same trip would cost $8.3 in LA and $4.4 in Chicago. You’d be right to think there were significant cost savings to be had. 

How much is insurance on an electric vehicle? 

Insurance might be one of the hidden costs of owning an electric car. In general, insurance policies for an electric vehicle tend to cost 25% more than their gas-powered comparable, with higher-priced cars needing larger and more expensive policies. 

Is it financially worth it to buy an electric car?

Piggy bank representing electric car costs

To cover and adjust for some of the hidden costs associated with an electric car, federal and state governments offer tax breaks when you purchase an electric vehicle. For electric cars, certain plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen-powered vehicles that meet qualifications, The Inflation Reduction Act currently offers up to $7,500 in tax credits. If you’re buying a used car for less than 25k, you might qualify for a tax credit of up to $4,000, based on income and other limits. Only certain cars and situations qualify, though, so check carefully.  

Consider your options to refinance your current loan. Is your car less than ten years old, under 140,000 miles, and have you made at least three payments? If so, you’re in a good position to refinance with Rateworks. We can talk with you about your specific needs and concerns if you’re making the jump to an electric-powered vehicle. Ask us how, today!