Cost Saved vs. Cost of Repairs: What Wins?

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here — I think I’ve realized that electric cars mostly operate the same as gas cars so there isn’t much to really understand about owning one — until today. To recap the past year a bit, our car shit-out in late-November/early-December 2019 and was gone for repairs for over a month. They found a myriad of issues with out car and I mostly attributed this to Ford’s shitty EV design and nothing inherent with electric cars in general. The car was returned to us and everything was fine until about three weeks ago. We got another “Stop Safely Now” warning, the car refused to drive, and we had no choice but to haul it to the dealership.

The issue as described to me was we had a bad 12 Volt battery — a typical issue with any gas vehicle but something that allowed us to not drive or troubleshoot our EV — so it was towed for the second time in a half-year to the dealership. Well, shit I thought. They quoted us $430 for this repair (as they found a few other minor issues) and I was questioning this entire EV adventure that I was so excited about back in 2017. Was all of this a mistake? Should I have stuck with a shitty gas car instead of some random EV from Ford?

On the way into work I was thinking aloud to a friend about this problem. At the very least I pondered did I at least save enough money on gas in the meantime to make up for the Ford Focus Electric repairs? It seemed to be an easy enough problem to solve — tally up my data over the years and compare it to a similar gas car — and I set about doing such an experiment. Have I saved money? Or am I tossing it all away into some shitty EV?

Costs of the EV…

Luckily, I’ve kept data on the Ford since we’ve gotten it. To recap some numbers, since 2017 we’ve driven 30,000 miles. Charging at home and considering a 70-80% charging efficiency at $0.12/kWh gives our total electrical cost around $1,460. This number can be minimized by using home solar power or using free charging stations location around the area, but ignoring these factors gives a very conservative estimate on the car’s costs to drive. (Big note here: the $0.12/kWh also includes taxes and all other fees charged by the electric company. It accounts for everything the electric bill has and not just the supply of the electricity!)

I’d love to have all the raw data if any psychos want to analyze the numbers on their own, or for transparency purposes, but naw. Here’s a screenshot of the most recent data. No May 2020 data yet because I HAVEN’T GOTTEN THE CAR BACK YET!

Costs of a Gas Car

For an example, I used our “new” used 2006 Honda Civic. It’s small, it’s cramped, and seems comparable to a Ford Focus Electric. We’ve owned the car for over a half-year and IT seems to safely get 30 miles per gallon (mpg). Doing some simple math, it would take 1,000 gallons of gas for the Civic to drive 30,000. Obviously the price of gas fluctuates and I’ve only been keeping data monthly, but the average seems to be $2.50 per gallon of gasoline over the past three years. Once again, using some really simple math, a Civic would cost around $2,500 to drive the same distance as our Ford EV, which costs only $1,500, to round up a bit. It’s a savings of $1,000!

Maintenance???

I change the oil in our gas vehicles every year (as we don’t drive them much and apparently synthetic oil survives better than conventional) and if you account for each oil change costing $40 each three years, you’re left with a ‘basic maintenance cost’ of $120. You can probably add a few extra hundred for brakes (which wear out quicker on a gas vehicle) as well as any other random issues that show up. But let’s keep it simple here and add only the oil change to the cost to drive the car: $2,620.

In Total…

This equation give me only $1,120 saved in gas from the Ford to piss away in maintenance costs, and I’m sad to say that I’m sure I’ve spent quite a bit more than that. Sadly I didn’t save my repair receipts, but the one repair back in late 2019 cost me $1,000 which was covered by my insurance deductible. And if you add in the $430 from this latest repairs, we’re almost at the break-even price. The car died a few other times years ago, and well it isn’t hard to see the EV probably did rack up higher repair costs than a comparable gas car would driven the same miles. It’s depressing.

In Conclusion…

I’m still a fan of EVs and take some slight solace in knowing that maybe I did save some carbon emissions even if it did cost me more in the long run. This doesn’t help much as everyone’s primary motivator is cost: it’s the main economic driving point behind everyone’s actions. If something is cheaper, people will go with it. If something is easier, people will go with it. That’s why I went with an EV in the first place: it costs less to operate and should (in theory) cost less to maintain thanks to the lack of moving mechanical parts that inevitably wear out. EVs, at least with this new revelation, seem to not fulfill these economic requirements for adoption by the masses. They’re a pain to get fixed, and at least with the Ford Focus Electric, seem to command higher repair expenses than you’d expect. Still, I think this is a problem with the product itself and not with EVs in general. They still don’t have any moving drivetrain parts really. They still require little maintenance. They’re still more efficient and easier to “fill up” than gas cars. But with the EV I currently have, the Ford Focus Electric, I find my expectations not being met and I find myself losing money over simply driving a shitty 2006 Honda Civic. Maybe in 2020 electric cars still haven’t evolved to where they’ll be accepted by the masses.

If you come here I’d like you to know I have two other blogs: one where I write about life in general called Everything Sucks, and another where I post fictional (or mostly fictional) short stories.

I also have a Facebook page where I link to most things I write, if that’s your thing.

Oh, or Instagram if you like to see shitty artistic pictures and captions.

I’m a desperate amateaur and would love any kinda support you’d like to offer!

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