Whether you’re looking for a conventionally powered car or an electrified ride, it pays to look beyond a new vehicle’s sticker price and consider its total cost of ownership to ensure you’re getting the best deal over the long haul.
We’re featuring estimates for what are expected to be the cheapest-to-own electric vehicles for 2019, based on five-year cost data provided by the valuation authorities at Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com.
The biggest ownership expense for any vehicle is one that’s too-often overlooked, namely depreciation. It’s especially critical when shopping for an EV in that they’ve tended to suffer from below-average resale values because of the federal one-time tax credit that effectively cuts the transaction price by as much as $7,500, along with other factors. That situation is beginning to change, however, as new models that can run for more than 200 miles on a charge are predicted to hold onto their values more tenaciously.
Be aware that this factor is just as critical if you’re among the many EV aficionados who lease instead of buying a vehicle outright. That’s because lease payments are largely based on the difference between a vehicle’s transaction price and what it’s expected to be worth at the end of the contract.
Insurance premiums are also a bit higher among electric cars than other vehicle types. That’s largely because they can cost more to repair after getting into a wreck because of their pricey battery packs.
On the other hand, EV owners tend to come out ahead in terms of powering their rides. It costs far less to keep an electric car charged than to keep a gas tank filled. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency, says a Nissan Leaf that gets the equivalent of 112 miles per gallon (expressed as “MPGe”) will cost an average owner $500 a year in electricity costs. That’s $5,000 less than it would take to run the average new vehicle for five years at 15,000 miles driven annually.
An electric car is also cheaper to maintain. An EV doesn’t require fluid changes or tune-ups, and there are fewer moving parts that would eventually fail and need replacing. EVs use a simple one-speed transmission and eliminate wear-and-tear items like spark plugs, valves, muffler/tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, drive belts, hoses, and a catalytic converter. What’s more, an EV‘s warranty covers the battery pack for at least 8 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first).
All of the models in our list are eligible for a one-time $7,500 federal tax credit with the exception of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Bolt’s incentive is being phased out since General Motors reached 200,000 total sales of EV and plug-in hybrids last year. It’s currently $3,750, but will drop to $1,875 on October 1, and is scheduled to go away altogether on March 31, 2020.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and five-year ownership cost predictions for each vehicle in the slideshow are for base models without options, taxes, and registration fees, but include the mandatory destination charge. It should be noted that five-year-ownership cost data is not yet available for some recently introduced models including the Honda Clarity Electric, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, and the Tesla Model 3.
Five-year cost to own: $36,060. The Chevrolet Bolt EV holds onto its resale value better than all EVs but the Teslas, with five-year depreciation estimated at $25,028, based on an MSRP of $37,495. Out of pocket expenses, including fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and registration are projected at $11,032. It’s rated at 128/110 MPGe city/highway, and can run for an average of 238 miles on a charge
Five-year cost to own: $36,561. The boxy-but-roomy Kia Soul EV is expected to lose $27,607 of its original $34,945 MSRP over a five-year ownership period, but it has affordable operating expenses at $8,954. It’s rated at 124/93 MPGe with an operating range of 111 miles with a fully charged battery.
Five-year cost to own: $ 33,590. The cute and comely Fiat 500e is only available in California and Oregon. It’s expected to drop in value by $28,025 over five years, from a base MSRP of $34,705. Out of pocket expenses are anticipated to run an owner $5,565 during that period. It’s rated at 121/103 MPGe with an 84-mile operating range.
Five-year cost to own: $32,740. With a base MSRP of $31,235, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is expected to lose $25,613 of its original value after a five-year ownership period, with $7,127 in ongoing running costs. It’s rated at 150/122 MPGe with an average range of 124 miles on a charge. Its availability is limited to California and 13 other states (and the District of Columbia) that have adopted its emissions standards.
Five-year cost to own: $31,087. The Nissan Leaf is the second cheapest EV to own for 2019, and it would be, for most, an eminently more practical ride than the number one car on the list. It’s expected to lose $22,407 of its original $30,885 base price over five years and cost $8,680 to drive for 15,000 annual miles. It’s rated at 124/99 MPGe, and run for an average 150 miles on a charge. The new Nissan Leaf Plus is rated at 114/94 MPGe and has an extended range at 215 miles, but with a higher MSRP that starts at $37,445.
Five-year cost to own: $24,650. The cheapest electric car to purchase and lease also has the lowest five-year ownership costs. Unfortunately the Smart EQ ForTwo is not for everyone as it seats only two, has little in the way of cargo space, and musters a feeble operating range of just 58 miles. Out-of-pocket expenses are estimated at $12,490 over half a decade. On the plus side, it’s the only EV available as a convertible, and the base coupe’s depreciation is a modest $15,587, based on a $24,650 MSRP. It’s rated at 124/94 MPGe.
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
2015 Nissan LEAF Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE).
This is a ONE-OWNER super nice electric 2015 Nissan Leaf S with clean carfax history!!! Car is amazing! Looks and runs perfect! Zero Emission vehicle! Warranty start date 10/25/2014. Battery life 12 bars! Loaded with Quick charge package rear view camera cruise control climate control heated front a...Price: $12,500 Mileage: 27,430 Location: Hopkins, MN, USA Below average: $2,100 Total Range: 84 Mi Trim: S Range 84 Mi Mileage 27,430 Location Hopkins, MN, USA Trim S Price $12,500 Below average $2,100
2015 Tesla Model S Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE).
**CLEAN CARFAX**AUTO PILOT**LEATHER**SUNROOF**NAVIGATION**REARVIEW CAMERA**85KWH BATTERY**HOMELINK**SUPER CLEAN**TRADES WELCOME**OUT OF STATE BUYERS ENCOURAGED**CALL 602-267-1212. WE MAKE DEALS AT THE CAR & TRUCK DEPOTPrice: $56,999 Mileage: 15,413 Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA Below average: $5,401 Total Range: 265 Mi Trim: 85 Range 265 Mi Mileage 15,413 Location Scottsdale, AZ, USA Trim 85 Price $56,999 Below average $5,401
2019 BMW 5 Series Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have a battery and an electric motor. However, like gasoline vehicles, PHEVs also have a gasoline tank and an internal combustion engine (ICE).
Sun/Moonroof,Navigation System,Keyless Start,Bluetooth Connection,BLACK; SENSATEC LEATHERETTE UPHOLSTERY,FINELINE RIDGE WOOD TRIM,JET BLACK,WHEELS: 18" X 8" DOUBLE-SPOKE (STYLE 634)Price: $55,445 Mileage: 10 Location: Delray Beach, FL Below average: $3,521 Total Range: 404 Mi Trim: 530e iPerformance Range 16 Mi Mileage 10 Location Delray Beach, FL Trim 530e iPerformance Price $55,445 Below average $3,521
2017 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have a battery and an electric motor. However, like gasoline vehicles, PHEVs also have a gasoline tank and an internal combustion engine (ICE).
2017 Ford C-Max EnergiPrice: $16,195 Mileage: 17,902 Location: Boulder, CO Below average: $2,305 Total Range: 570 Mi Trim: SE Range 20 Mi Mileage 17,902 Location Boulder, CO Trim SE Price $16,195 Below average $2,305
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