Electric car vs petrol car: cost of running, maintenance, and everything else you need to know

Cars have been running on fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel for the past century. While they do complement the car’s engine perfectly, it’s not hidden to anyone that petrol and diesel contribute to CO2 emission, thus polluting the environment. This is where electric cars fit in. Electric cars emit a fraction of the emissions that their petrol and diesel counterparts do, and at the same time, are cost-efficient in the long run. However, the electric engine is still a new-age technology, and as a result, there seems to be a mist of confusion among potential car buyers regarding whether to go for an electric or stick with the traditional petrol-run internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Today, we try to clear the picture for you by digging deep into the key aspects of electric and petrol cars, such as cost of running, maintenance, speed, and more.

Also Read: Electric scooter and car subsidies: Here’s how much subsidy you get on EV in India from centre and state

How does an electric car work?

Before moving ahead, let’s first try to understand what exactly an electric car — or electric vehicle (EV) in general — is, and how it works. An electric car/vehicle, as the name suggests, runs on electricity. The latter is drawn from the huge inverter-sized batteries that the vehicle packs. The electricity powers the motor, which, in turn, allows the car to move. This motor is slightly different from what you find on a regular vehicle though. For starters, EV motors are made of fewer components and, unlike ICE aka internal combustion engine, don’t mix fuel and air after compression. This means lower maintenance costs and less pollution.

Electric Car

Coming back to the batteries, they can easily be topped up via the company’s chargers at home or charging stations; the latter offers fast charging. There are a bunch of apps/ websites that navigate you to nearby charging stations.

Also Read: EV charging station: How to find a nearby charging station in India online

However, it’s not that seamless of a process in India yet due to the lack of presence of charging stations across the country. 

Electric car vs petrol car: price

Electric car prices in India is definitely on the higher side compared to their petrol counterparts at the moment. This could be attributed to the cost of the batteries, which are not like other batteries. They are made of cutting edge technology that offers maximum endurance on a single charge. The electric vehicle price is likely to come down in a couple of years as the technology improves and becomes more widespread; however, for now, you will have to shell out 25-30 percent more for EVs than petrol/ diesel vehicles.

Electric cars in India are priced 25-30 percent more than their petrol and diesel counterparts at the moment.

This doesn’t make investing in electric vehicles a bad idea altogether. If you consider the running cost of an electric car, you may end up saving tons of money a few years down the line.

Electric car vs petrol car: running cost

Typically, an electric car would have a running cost of Rs 1.2-1.4 per km, while petrol prices hover around Rs 9-10/km. If you factor that into the long-term, say 6 to 8 years, the total you would end up spending on battery charging would barely be over Rs 1 lakh due to the low electricity prices. On the other hand, a typical fuel run car would require around Rs 4.5 lakhs worth of petrol/diesel for the same time duration. Simply put, electric cars are way cost-efficient in the long run even if they cost more to buy.

The running cost of an electric car is estimated to be a little over Rs 1 lakh after 6-8 years, whereas the typical fuel-run car would incur running costs of around Rs 4.5 lakh in the same period.

Also read: Reasons to buy and not to buy electric vehicles in 2021

Electric car vs petrol car: maintenance cost

The fewer components on an electric car compared to the petrol car ensure less frequent visits to service centre.

As of now, electric cars might be expensive to purchase, but the cost of maintenance and servicing is relatively lower than petrol and diesel counterparts. This is because electric vehicles have significantly fewer components to look after unlike ICE cars, which need regular oiling of gears and engines, replacement of worn-out parts, and other mechanical parts’ maintenance. Therefore, with fewer parts in an EV, the lesser is the chance of wear and tear, meaning fewer frequent visits to the service centre for car checkups. Speaking of checkups, the electric motor in an EV may require brake fluid top-ups once in a while as well as an inspection of battery health.

Electric car vs petrol car: performance

electric car vs petrol car
Love torque? An electric car is a way to go

An electric car provides a smooth and silent experience while driving, as the only moving parts are the electric motors. All the energy from the battery is delivered to these motors, which results in high torque and pickup speeds; in contrast, in IEC cars, the energy has to be processed through gears, clutches, and the engine for the car to move.

This way, an electric car has relatively better performance than a fossil fuel-run car and is able to run more efficiently due to fewer moving parts in it. Generally, the battery capacity on an EV is equivalent to the size of a fuel tank, which means the range it would provide is sufficient for more or less one day of commute around the city, but again it also varies from car to car (and their battery capacities). Also, the fact the EV charging stations aren’t as widespread as petrol pumps is a disadvantage for now. Additionally, electric cars can take a long time to top up the battery, depending on the source; that is not a concern if you have a petrol/ diesel car. All in all, if you hit the road for long journeys every now and then, a petrol or diesel car is a better pick, while for daily city commutes an electric car has got you covered.

An electric car is rated to have better performance and efficiency than a petro/ diesel car. However, the former can take a long time to top up the battery.

Electric car vs petrol car: life

With the recent developments to fight the ever-growing pollution in the country, it is advised by the government that IEC-based cars are to be scrapped after 15 years as such cars emit undesirable amounts of pollution levels after this period. Add to that the component failures as well as replacements and maintenance of worn-out components, and you can incur too many expenses after a couple of years of usage. On the other hand, an electric car’s main component is the battery. While most electric car manufacturers offer an extensive warranty on battery (around 6-8 years), it would require a replacement after, say 10-12 years until it completely degrades and does not provide the expected range and performance.

In the current scenario, most EVs will last somewhere around 10-12 years. After this, a battery replacement would be required. Petro car, on the other hand, has a validity of 15 years.

The cost of an EV battery in India ranges from Rs 15,000-20,000 per kWh at the moment. So, say on average an electric car has a 30kWh battery, so the battery replacement will cost you around Rs 4.5 lakhs to 6 lakhs, which is enough to burn a hole in your pocket. However, the cost is likely to come down in the coming years.

Electric car vs petrol car: which one should you buy?

With that, we’ve covered major aspects of an electric and fuel vehicle that have to be looked upon when purchasing either of the two. To sum it up, an EV is a better pick for driving around the city on a daily basis, costs less to recharge, has way fewer maintenance costs, and the battery can be topped up at home or designated charging stations. But when it comes to the long term, the battery replacement can land a huge bill after 10 to 12 years. Lastly, an EV at the moment costs marginally more than fuel-run cars providing a similar range.

Alternatively, something to cherish is that several state governments are providing subsidies of up to Rs 1.5 lakhs on the purchase of EVs i.e. Rs 10,000 of subsidy per kWh of the battery capacity. This initiative is in line with the government’s aim to make India a fully electric-vehicle nation by 2030. So expect to see some major developments and innovations in the EV space in the coming years.

Speaking of the traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, these are still a better pick for frequent long trips, can be re-fueled in mere minutes at any of the hundreds of petrol stations in a city, and are an economical option upfront as of now.