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Long-Term Electric Vehicle Ownership: Pros and Cons

There’s no doubt that electric cars are all the rage right now. Sure, you may not have one yet, but a steadily increasing number of shoppers are buying them, drawn to the practicality, environmental benefits, tax savings and low-cost driving experience. But what happens in a few years when leases expire and electric vehicles become more common? Is it a good idea to own an electric vehicle (EV) over the long term? We’ve listed a few pros and cons below.

Pros of Long-Term EV Ownership

If you’re searching for benefits from long-term electric vehicle ownership, you’ll no doubt find many. Of course, the biggest is fuel savings. While gas prices have hit a lull right now, there’s no telling whether they might come back up in the future. That means your savings could become even greater over the next few years compared to drivers in traditional gas-powered cars.

But saving fuel isn’t the only EV cost improvement over a typical car. Since electric motors don’t have many of the complex moving parts found in a gasoline engine, EVs won’t develop the same problems. For instance, you’ll never have to get an oil change in an electric car. You’ll never have to replace a timing belt or a head gasket, either. And while electric vehicles may eventually require battery replacement (see below), the motor itself is likely to last longer than a standard gasoline engine.

Cons of Long-Term EV Ownership

Unfortunately, electric vehicles aren’t perfect. There are still a few drawbacks to owning one over the long term, and the biggest relates to batteries. The problem is that an electric vehicle’s batteries will eventually require replacement, much like the battery in your cellphone or your laptop. The cost of replacing an EV battery can be very high, with many estimates ranging around $5,000 or more. Many automakers have warranties that will cover a battery replacement (the Chevrolet Volt’s, for instance, is eight years and 100,000 miles), but you may have to cover the cost yourself if the battery fails after the warranty expires.

Another potential drawback is resale value. As electric vehicles age, shoppers will likely shy away due to the possibility of an expensive battery repair. This could lead to dramatic declines in resale value, especially as electric vehicles near the end of their battery warranties.

The final potential drawback to long-term electric vehicle ownership is collision repair costs. An electric car isn’t built like a gas-powered one; instead, it houses many fragile battery packs in areas that could be easily harmed in a collision. If a collision happens, these battery packs may need to be replaced — and that means a big repair bill. Of course, your insurance company will take care of it, but you may end up paying more for insurance as a result. For instance, you might choose to go with comprehensive coverage or a lower deductible where you wouldn’t with a gas-powered car.

Good Idea or Bad Idea?

If you’re interested in owning an electric vehicle over the long term, we certainly wouldn’t try to stop you. They’re often cost-effective, practical cars that can save drivers lots of money — and help the environment. But before you embark on a long-term ownership experience with an EV, we suggest you consider the potential drawbacks that we’ve listed.

Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. I believe if you are under 40 years old, you Will own one someday. I love my ICE’s, especially in my motorcycles, but i welcome the EV. They can offer serious performance for the enthusiast. And for those that spend extra money on aftermarket exhaust for that “HEY! LOOK AT ME!!” effect, well maybe they can just play the stereo excessively loud. 🙂

  2. Yep, batteries are unpredictable, and can last just over 100.000, with replacement battery prices well into the thousands, don’t bother going down the cheap route, and replacing cells here and there, as it’s an never ending cycle, which will cost a fortune eventually. 3 minutes to fill a car with fuel versus 1 to 4 hours of charging ?the 3 minutes sounds good to me  

  3. Prius has been out for 18 years, many of them still have original battery pack and original brakes. Battery replacement “con’ tactic against electric vehicles is just not true. Many of my friends have over 200000 miles on original battery pack. The other day I was in Prius Lyft and he said he replaced his at 299000 and it cost him under $1000.00. With technology it’s only going to get cheaper. Transmission and engine for a BMW will cost $12000  versus $5000 for a whole new drivetrain/engine in Tesla maybe at the 300000 mile mark. There a reason the BIG automakers in the world are getting away from ICE, it’s b/c they know Elon is on the right path

    • glad to hear! looking for a car after years on public transit due to fear of cost of car repair and ownership costs. now i just need to find a good electric car for sale! 🙂

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