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Operation Costs

In the upcoming years, the money saved by switching to electric may be the biggest draw to the public. 

To elaborate more on the following subjects, click on the bullet points to expand them.

  • Fuel Costs

    • As gas prices rise the lure of lower costs per mile is greater

    • The per-mile cost for an electric car, using off-peak residential rates to charge, is about two cents.   If we calculate the cost of today’s gasoline, say $3.00, the 'per mile' estimate for a Hummer H2 is about 30 cents a mile, which is about fifteen times the EV’s cost!

    • Another unfactored variable is that there are public charging stations which offer free parking and free electricity.  How many places do you know will give you free gasoline?

  • Battery Costs

    •  Although you may never need to change the oil, or tank up an electric car, the greatest regular expense is batteries.  Luckily today’s battery packs are good for more than a hundred thousand miles. 

      • "Five of a fleet of Toyota RAV4 EV’s in southern California has put over 100,000 miles on their original pack of batteries, and there was “only slight performance degradation has been observed to date”. (Knipe 2) 

  • Replacement Costs

    • In contrast – what kinds of replacement parts are needed in an EV,  aside from the common denominator parts listed in the diagrams below? 

      • Brake pad use is reduced to nearly zero with the use of regenerative braking (regen) to capture otherwise lost energy. It also increases the EV’s drivable range by 10-20%, depending on the terrain, and various other factors.

      • Tires will alway's need replacement

      • The use of other consumable parts (spark plugs, oil, filters, belts, and hoses) is now relegated to history.

  • Periodic Costs

    • Examples of regular costs would include fuel; periodic costs would include replacement tires and oil changes, spark plugs and belt/hose replacements; while occasional costs would include light bulbs, valve reseating, radiator replacement costs, clutch transmission, or catalytic converter replacements.

    • Why do gas car costs increase over time?

      •  Maintenance costs generally increase over the lifetime of an gas car, but are relatively low and constant by comparison in an EV. 

      • It is primarily due to mechanical friction on moving metal parts. In spite of space-age lubricants and fancy metal alloys, lubrication can only serve to reduce (but not eliminate) friction. 

    •  So just what wears out?  

      • Some parts erode (spark plugs) or get plugged up (fuel, air and oil filters).  But usually the mating surfaces of metal rub and wear thinner and thinner.  For example the piston seals erode over time, and as they do, high pressure exhaust gases escape, causing compression losses which cause a loss of power, and contamination of the lubricating oil. 

      • Other gradually debilitating effects of ’wear and tear’ include bearings loosening up, valve seals no longer sealing, oil and fuel pumps no longer operating optimally, clutch plates slipping (even in automatic transmissions) etc.

      • Reconditioning these components means taking the vehicle out of service, arranging the repair and hoping it’s done adequately.  Other regularly replaced items include belts (for water pumps, air conditioner, power steering), and then the less regularly but expensive complicated timing belt or chain.  Hoses rot out, radiators get plugged up from gasket material disintegrating, exhaust systems fail or corrode and need replacement, (such as catalytic converters). 

    • At the advanced age of 150,000 miles, an engine rebuild (to address these ills) would be required for continued operation at a cost of $2,500 to $4000 depending on the size and make of the engine.  

      • The duration for the repair depends on the shop and the mechanic.  Typically the vehicle is off-road for two to six weeks.

  • Hydrogen Disadvantages

    • Today another alternative to the internal combustion engine is some sort of hydrogen-based vehicle.  The fuel cell has been a hot topic in politics during the past few years.  What the public doesn’t hear about is that to make them a viable alternative to gasoline would “cost hundreds of billions” and “would certainly be a daunting task”, (Scientific American 8).  It is questionable if the infrastructure, a street corner type of hydrogen fuel distribution system would even be ready before we run short of gas.  

    • Why build an infrastructure for hydrogen when all houses have 110/220 volt power available to go electric?

    •  Cost is another large problem in fuel cells, they use rare and pricey platinum inside, which would make “the ‘engine’ of a fuel-cell car […] cost about $10,000” (Lincoln 75). 



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