Are electric cars cheaper to service than diesel models? We investigate

Are electric cars cheaper to service than diesel models? We investigate

In the autumn 2017 budget, the government dangled more carrots to entice drivers to switch to electric cars. It promised not to tax those who charge their cars for free at work. It also said there would be £400m for additional charging points and revealed increases in Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) for new diesel cars.

The incentives are intended to accelerate the drive toward electric cars that emit no emissions. Even so, most drivers still have practical questions over the suitability of battery powered vehicles and, importantly, their running costs.

One of the most significant running costs of any car is the price of servicing. And manufacturers of electric models often highlight how much cheaper they are to maintain than a comparably priced diesel car. But are there really savings to be made? And how often do they need to be serviced? We investigate.

Servicing costs: do electric cars all cost the same to maintain?

Servicing costs: do electric cars all cost the same to maintain?

Just as you’d pay less to have a Ford Fiesta serviced than you would a BMW 5 Series, there are big differences between the servicing costs of electric cars.

That comes down to the hourly labour rates charged by different brands, the complexity of the vehicle and the list of jobs that need to be performed during the scheduled service.

How often do electric cars need servicing?

Electric cars currently fall into one of two camps. They will either need servicing once a year, or they have to be checked every other year.

Take four of the most popular models. The Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe must be inspected once a year, or at 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). Meanwhile the BMW i3 and VW e-Golf don’t have to be seen for two years or 18,000 miles.

That’s assuming that nothing goes wrong with the battery powered models.

Comparing servicing costs for electric and diesel cars

Comparing servicing costs for electric and diesel cars

Electric car servicing is significantly more affordable than a hybrid or conventional motor. There are fewer moving parts, no need for costly engine oil changes and less wear and tear on expensive items such as brakes.

According to GreenCarGuide, the expected cost of servicing a Zoe at a Renault dealer, for its first three years and 30,000 miles, is £683, including tyres and brakes.

You may think that sounds expensive. Compared with a similar-size Renault Clio it becomes clear drivers switching to an electric car can enjoy savings. A Clio 1.5 diesel would be around £1500, more than twice as expensive.

A BMW i3 would be around £600, or £704 for the version with the range extender engine, whereas a BMW 320d EfficientDynamics automatic Touring would cost just over £1000.

It’s much the same story with Volkswagen. The electric e-Golf is estimated to cost £424 in maintenance over three years, whereas a Golf 2.0 TDI GTD BlueLine auto would be £1250.

Are more drivers buying plug-in cars?

By the end of November, sales of pure electric cars had reached 12,633. That’s an increase of almost 39 per cent over 2016. Plug-in hybrids, which feature both an electric motor that can power the car in isolation, and a combustion engine, have been bought by 30,204 drivers. It’s a year-on-year rise of nearly 21 per cent.

Read more: Why electric cars cost more to insure

18 comments on “Are electric cars cheaper to service than diesel models? We investigate

  1. Roy Meynell 10/01/2018 9:05 PM

    Well my friend bought electric car cost £25000,the battery stopped working price £8000.

  2. Joseph Robertson 12/01/2018 10:18 AM

    i wouldnt use a electric power, if there so good use them in ambulances and lifeboats. IF a lifeboat was coming to my rescue using ever ready batteries i would feel doomed . We need powerfull diesel engines to do a proper job. i heard i can get a 100 miles from electric batteries and can be 8 hours to charge them. From where i live it would take me 4 days to reach london plus the expence of b&b.That not working out cheaper. Dick turpin could do the trip with his horse a lot faster and cheaper. They will be a nusiance on the road holding up traffic and emergency traffic when they rumble to a halt in a traffic jam them seeking help and sympathy from a driver with a proper car

  3. Derek Emblen 12/01/2018 5:51 PM

    why are we changing engine oil at such low mileage when a HGV artic is change every 1,500 miles When all the concession on electric vehicles are removed they my not be a good purchase. At the moment you and I pay for the running cost

  4. Derek Emblen 12/01/2018 6:38 PM

    I worked on electric vehicles 63 years ago, they weighed 16 ton GVW with a payload of 5 tons at the maximum legal speed of 20.MPH. I don’t believe we have got any further only taken the weight off to increase the speed

  5. Derek Emblen 12/01/2018 6:45 PM

    My first comment should have read, 150,000 miles and not 1,500 miles

  6. Peter metcalfe 14/01/2018 2:33 PM

    I bought my Kia Sportage Diesel car before any decision was made to outlaw Deisel cars. Deisel at my local Filling Station is now costing me £1.28 a litre. Aso my road tax has increased. Why should I be penalised for a decision that was made by the Labour Govenment. This is totaly wrong I am a 73 year old pensioner and should not be penalised.

  7. John 14/01/2018 6:00 PM

    In the FASHION, Tattoo’s, Beards, Now Electric Cars, its all about figures, You would only pay these service prices if you go to the main dealers, I have a ford Mondeo and I keep it in tip top condition, My thermostat had to be replaced and ford wanted £285 to replace it, I know a garage that is council approved and maintains Taxi’s he did it for £40 that’s what you call a saving, and I only buy the top grade diesel that is environmentally friendly, thanks to the government going on about Electric Cars the car sales fell to an all time low in 2017 loosing millions in trade for the car dealers, what a sham, Electric Cars are all in the FASHION so we will have to see how much it really cost the owners of these cars when they break down, I am all for cleaner air and global warming, and may be Green Flag, the R.A.C & AA should be looking and investigating the state of our Motorways litter car body parts tyres littered all over the place keep me in touch as I am always interested in cleaning up our lovely planet.

  8. Michael Sagar 16/01/2018 11:41 AM

    A very interesting article, thank you

  9. DEREK 17/01/2018 12:08 AM

    12 months ago I spent £13,500.00 on a Audi Q5 TDI 2009. The best car I have ever owned. I will be paying my bank back for the next 4 years. How on earth can a normal person with a normal income afford a electric car? And even more importantly, there is no electric car that can tow a touring caravan yet. Electric cars, Great if you’re rich, tuff if your a working man. Same old same old. A Conservative Elite Rich Persons attempt at saving the environment. Some people need to join the real wold! PS. By the way, my full service was £239.00, and £40 of that was VAT. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  10. DAVID TATE 17/01/2018 9:32 PM


  11. RD 19/01/2018 4:29 PM

    Purely electric cars are good for daily commutes that are within the range of cars battery. But there are two major problems. 1) You need to have a second petrol/diesel car for the times you want to travel far longer distances. 2) If everyone rushes out to buy electric cars and start charging them at home in the evening, there will be power cuts. If the demand for electricity starts to outstrip supplies, the prices will shoot up and petrol/diesel engines would not seem like such a bad idea after all.

  12. Dave Jones 20/01/2018 11:47 AM

    Anyone who thinks that electric cars are going to save the planet ought to look at the amount of coal/oil going into our power stations and the amount of waste generated. Yet another con by people in power who have no interest in ecology and no pertinent skills to address the problems.

  13. Mike Parker 20/01/2018 1:19 PM

    Most of replies here appear to be “personal views” based on dislike of change rather then experience. Fossil fuels for transport are going off limits. Whether it’s all electric, or hydrogen fuel cell, they will all be replaced soon. This wind rich country is still looking up it’s proverbial rear when it comes to energy development. Last year nearly 50% of new car sales in Norway, an oil rich country, were electric.

  14. ET 20/01/2018 10:18 PM

    This is early days for domestic electric transport. The present generation will look like the Ford model T did in the early days of the internal combustion engine, fifty years from now. And in a hundred years there might be no roads at all.

  15. Sydney Hollick 25/01/2018 6:40 PM

    The government may be in favour of promoting all-electric cars and penalising anyone choosing a diesel alternative but so far they have avoided the obvious question as to where all the extra electricity will come from and how the production of it will adversely affect the environmrnt which they are supposedly so passionate to protect!!!! Which will be more detrimental, diesel fumes or power station fumes….I don’t know and an educated guess tells me neither does the government!!!
    Until they can prove their argument then implementing any kind of penalisation on diesel emissions is totally unacceptable.

  16. Alan H 29/01/2018 6:42 PM

    i use to drive a electric van while working for the electricity board it took three times as long to get to jobs as a normal petrol /diesel we held traffic up when going up hills it was that slow

  17. Gloria Aldridge 27/02/2019 1:52 PM

    I have a Nissan Leaf Teckna it is the best car I Have bought and owned in my life. No worries about batteries or charging points as most motorway services got them installed. Far South West of Cornwall to Doncaster in Yorkshire and back for £12.00.No conventional car petrol or diesel can do that I will dispute otherwise as I have owned both. Comfort and driving can’t beat it.

    • John Horwell 04/08/2019 12:32 PM

      Thanks for the most intelligent and positive comment made so far!

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