In case you didn’t know it, electric vehicles are now cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel

A new academic study entitled “Total cost of ownership and market share for hybrid and electric vehicles in the UK, US and Japan” (pdf), published in the journal Applied Energy shows that the total cost of an electric vehicle in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan for an average four-year ownership cycle is already cheaper than diesel or petrol equivalents.

In addition to depreciation, taxes, maintenance, insurance and fuel or electricity, the study takes into account government subsidies designed to encourage people to buy electric vehicles. But it is expected that ownership costs will be even lower than gasoline or diesel vehicles without the subsidies, which is around €5,600 in the United Kingdom and Japan, and about €7,300 in the United States.

China, where there is growing concern over air pollution, is the market leader. In the United Kingdom, despite illegal levels nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide or particles in many cities, there are only around 120,000 100% electric vehicles, out of 32 million cars. However, with the current rate of decline in sales of diesel vehicles (-30%) and strong growth (37%) of electric vehicles, sales of electric vehicles will exceed diesel by May 2019, fulfilling Tony Seba’s predictions (pdf). Investments in charging infrastructure are overcoming many people’s fears, even though MIT research shows that by recharging at home, electric vehicles will cover 87% of the needs of the average user, and by 2025 that figure will be 99%.

The situation in the countries mentioned above contrasts with Spain, where the car industry and labor unions have called for a slow transition to electric vehicles (link in Spanish) and that sustainable mobility policies not only cover electric cars, hybrids and charging points, but also petrol and diesel vehicles that comply with Euro 6 pollution regulations. This short-term approach echoes the tobacco industry’s three decades ago, highlighting the industry’s determination hold onto outdated and dangerous technology that should have been dropped long ago. Hybrid vehicles, which have allowed the motor industry to clean up its image, are in many cases more harmful to the environment than fossil fuel equivalents.

Electric vehicles, along with hydrogen batteries, are now sufficiently efficient for governments to move from giving people tax breaks to encourage them to buy them to seriously discouraging people from buying petrol and diesel cars through higher taxes and greater restrictions such as banning them from some areas of cities. Left to its own devices, the automobile industry will continue producing diesel and petrol vehicles until 2040, while lobbying governments and using the excuse that jobs need to be protected, when in fact building electric cars would also create jobs. Is there a leader out there prepared to stand up to the auto industry?


(En español, aquí)