18 jan 22

EVs cut service, maintenance and repair costs by 50%

Real life fleet operating experience is confirming fleet projections that the service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs of battery electric vehicles are substantially lower than those of equivalent vehicles with internal combustion engines.

With significantly fewer moving parts in an electric drivetrain, maintenance is not only much easier, but also avoids completely some of the parts that need replacing in a combustion engine, such as oil, filters, spark plugs and even a fan belt for higher mileage vehicles.

SMR costs cut in half

Arval, which manages more than 200,000 electric vehicles on behalf of customers around the world, has found their SMR costs to be about 50% of ICE vehicles.

“Their maintenance intervals are longer, and services take less time to perform,” said Andrian Cainarean, Head of Energy Transition, Arval (pictured below).

Longer service intervals

Figures published by Audi, for example, show that its new Q4 e-tron has two-year, unlimited mileage service intervals, compared to its petrol and diesel models requiring an oil service every year or 15,000km, followed by a full service every two years or 30,000km. A typical fleet driver covering 30,000km per year would need to take the Q4 to the dealership only once every two years, compared to four times for an ICE model.

There are also significant EV cost savings in brake pads, with regenerative braking (which uses energy from braking to recharge batteries) extending the life of brakes well beyond the point when an ICE vehicle would need replacements.

Linear maintenance costs

Moreover, whereas the workshop costs for ICE vehicles tends to rise sharply beyond a certain age and mileage, electric vehicles are proving consistently reliable, leading to linear SMR costs. This gives fleets the option to keep electric vehicles for longer than standard three- or four-year contracts, especially with battery packs typically under warranty for at least eight years. Such a policy would need to be weighed against the benefits of adopting newer, longer range EVs, and the dilution of the ‘perk’ element if drivers have to keep their company cars for longer.

But there are some areas of SMR expenditure for EVs that are higher, said Cainarean.

“Not all the technicians in repair networks are qualified to deliver all of the servicing tasks for high voltage vehicles, so garages are having to provide additional training for staff, which has an implication on hourly labour rates,” he said.

EV tyre costs

EV tyre costs are another element that require careful management. As a rule of thumb, EV tyres are more expensive because they require a heavier load index to deal with the greater weight of the vehicles (due to heavy batteries), plus extra engineering for low rolling resistance to optimise range and minimise road noise.

Tyre wear is also higher for EVs, due to their extra mass and instant torque, although any comparison with an ICE car should be with a model that offers similar performance. Comparing a Tesla Model 3 to a Volkswagen Passat, for example, is misleading because the Tesla has the acceleration of a sports car.

Research by tyre firm Continental has found that on a like-for-like basis, two-wheel drive EVs reduce tyre mileage by a quarter, but tyres on four-wheel drive EVs last 10% longer. As always, the biggest factor on tyre wear is not the vehicle but the driver; harsh acceleration and braking wears out tyres more quickly, regardless of the powertrain.

Arval’s experience is that for similar cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf and ID.3, tyre usage is very similar, “but the price of the replacement tyres for the EV is slightly more expensive, which may have a cost implication,” said Cainarean.

Images: Shutterstock, Arval

Authored by: Jonathan Manning