Gregory Milligan

A common question by those considering an EV is “how much will I save by driving an EV?”
The answer as with most things, is variable. It depends on what sort of internal combustion car you are replacing, how many kilometres you drive in a year, and how much your electricity costs.

To give an example of my case, when I bought my EV I was driving a Volvo 240 which was getting around 11 litres per 100 km. At the then petrol price of $1.35 per litre this was a fuel cost of approximately 15 cents per kilometre.

My Mitsubishi i MiEV was measured using a power meter for more than 4,000 kilometres of driving and averaged 160 Watt hours per kilometre. At 28 cents per Wh this is 4.5 cents per kilometre.

Naturally the more kilometres you drive, the better your savings.

For a petrol car to match the fuel costs of my i MiEV at the current petrol price of $1.42 per litre it would need to give better than 3.2 litres per hundred kilometres.

The only car available on the Australian market that comes close is the Smart Fortwo with a highway economy of 3.9 L/100 km but in the city where the EV is just as efficient, in fact more efficient than on the highway, the Smart gets 6 L/100.

For running costs per kilometre petrol cars just cannot match EV.

The other thing to consider is that electric cars have no oil to change, or oil filters, fuel filters, air filters, spark plugs, exhaust systems or all of the other things that cost money every service on a conventional car. The regenerative braking of an EV means that brake wear is minimal.

A regular service on an EV consists of checking the suspension, tyres, brake pads and hoses, wipers etc to ensure nothing is bent or broken, and maybe plugging a diagnostic computer in to do a health check on the batteries. Simple, easy, and cheap.

My wife and I have been driving electric cars for almost two years and between us have saved around $9,000. When we first got them we were commuting fairly long distances each day, and my wife was racking up almost a thousand kilometres each week. At the time we calculated that the cars would pay for themselves with fuel savings alone in less than five years, never mind the fact that we had gone from older cars with no airbags, ABS etc to modern safe vehicles with satnav and  electric windows and all mod cons, not to mention some factory warranty as we bought dealer demonstrators.