Is the cost of maintaining an EV less than a gas-powered vehicle?

Posted at 5:18 AM, Apr 04, 2022

(WXYZ) — Gas prices are still sitting above $4 per gallon, and now, more drivers are thinking about getting behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

In just the last month, said searches for "green vehicles" jumped 39%. However, they come with a hefty sticker price. They can be costly if you have to make repairs, and finding a specialized mechanic can be challenging.

It might be more expensive to get into an EV, with the average price around $65,000 new, but in the long run, maintenance costs of the EVs will save you. The downside is, there are not enough mechanics trained to work on them.

At the same time, the infrastructure is also charging up. But for mechanics, the training is lacking.

Related: 'It's better on your wallet.' Electric vehicles save drivers thousands, experts say

Claude Townsend is an automotive instructor at Oakland Community College.

"It's hard to get the EVs into our shops and classrooms for students to see, feel, and touch because they're so new, they're expensive, and manufacturers are having a hard time providing them to us," Townsend said.

The basics for a mechanic to work on are there for EVs, like changing or rotating tires, fixing the suspension, brakes, flushing the coolant, etc.

The average cost to maintain an EV, according to AAA, without insurance is $949 annually. It's about $330 less than a gas-powered vehicle. They don't require oil changes and other routine maintenance.

In fact, under the hood of the Tesla, or the frunk, as EV owners refer to it, you have your A/C system, power steering system, and a spot to put washer fluid.

You can get tune-ups through software updates, and those are done through WiFi.

Getting trained in technology is vital.

"Independent shops they'll have access to 'x' amount of service information but not everything," Townsend said. "They're going to have to be trained as well they're going to have to have these tools to do these things. So going to a dealership is going to be key."

Subbu Veerappan is the owner of Car Doc in Sterling Heights. He said dealers have an advantage right now with the technology, but says that should change.

"People don't want to go to the dealer after the warranty is over. They want to be able to fix it anywhere and currently, we don't have a unified thing of accessibility. When it comes to electric, I believe it's going to be the same," Veerappan said.

That's where the Repair Act comes into play. It was just introduced this year and would require equal access to manufacturers' vital data, like auto repair to independent repairs shops.

"The access is not there like even with these vehicles. You want a software program? You have to have a particular thing to access the car, you have to have the tools, the software you have to have the manufacturer's access you have to pay per play," Veerappan said.

So, the question is: what if your batter goes out on your EV? The average cost is about $5,000, but can be as much as $20,000.