BBC reports operating costs of electric vehicles higher than those of gas cars

(August 31, 2010) A startling report from the BBC states that the owner of an electric vehicle will not save money, but in fact will come out on the losing end when compared to the owner of a comparable gasoline-driven vehicle.

An electric-vehicle owner who thinks he's saving money relative to owning a gasoline-powered car because of lower refueling and maintenance costs will be in for a rude awakening when he tries to sell the vehicle.

In the U.K., an EV is about 13 percent more expensive to operate than a similar gas-powered car during the first three years of ownership, the report sates.

Danny King, contributor to, uncovered the recent BBC report, which used the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric-car — debuting in the United Kingdom early next year — as the  prime example. The report stated that i-MiEV owner will pay about 10,600 British pounds ($16,391) operating a vehicle that's driven a combined 36,000 miles over the first three years, compared to 9,339 British pounds ($11,834) for owners of a gas-powered Fiat 500 Lounge. And this factors in the 5,000-pound ($6,335) tax credit British EV owners will be getting.

King notes that the BBC received such numbers not from a competing car company with no EV plans, but from Mitsubishi itself.

King writes:

Granted, the higher cost is directly attributed to depreciation of the i-MiEV, whose 28,990-pound ($36,731) sticker price is almost three times that of the Fiat. With both cars losing about half their respective values over the first three years, the i-MiEV's depreciation costs more than offset the 2,848 British pounds ($3,609) in refueling costs the Mitsubishi owners will save over the three years.

Also, Mitsubishi comes out ahead when London's congestion charge is factored in. That could add another 5,100 pounds ($6,461) of expenses to drivers of gas-powered vehicles that wouldn't apply to EV owners.

Still, the higher initial costs and the fact that battery life, which automakers such as Mitsubishi and Nissan say could be as long as 100,000 miles, is unproven and may hinder EV resale values.

Mitsubishi and Nissan will debut the i-MiEV and larger Leaf EVs in the U.K. early next year. Nissan has received interest from about 12,000 people for the Leaf, which is priced at 23,990 pounds ($30,394), or 17 percent less than the i-MiEV.