Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Electric cars cost less over four years than petrol or diesel cars

A team of researchers from the University of Leeds, including Dr James Tate, Dr John Nellthorp and Dr Zia Wadud from ITS and PhD researcher Kate Palmer from the Faculty of Engineering, have led research finding that pure electric cars cost less over four years than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, but China is set to lead the market.

The researchers analysed the total cost of ownership of cars, including the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and maintenance. The research identified that pure electric cars were the cheapest to own in the markets examined, which included the UK, Japan, Texas and California.

Study co-author Dr Tate told the Guardian: “We were surprised and encouraged because, as we scale up production, [pure] electric vehicles are going to be becoming cheaper and we expect battery costs are going to fall.”

The research, which was published in the journal Applied Energy, finds that the lower cost is a key factor driving the rapid rise in electric car sales. Pure electric cars have lower fuel costs as well as maintenance costs, as the engines are simpler and help brake the car, saving on brake pads. Electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option even without subsidies.

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