MobilityBEUC study finds that electric cars present cheapest option for many consumers even today

Today, the European consumer organization BEUC together with nine of its national member organizations published its new report on acquisition and lifetime costs and social impact of different engine types for consumers. The study finds that a medium-sized electric car bought today is already the most financially interesting solution over the car’s lifetime and hence the most equitable engine on the market.

Every electric car sold today paves the way for a corresponding second-hand market in the future, which creates consumer benefit and savings due to reduced depreciation and maintenance costs.

For this research, the ‘total cost of ownership’ (lifetime cost) for electric car ownership was calculated in comparison to other car types building upon 2016 data on the affordability of electric cars.

The study's main takeaways include:

  • Electric cars are the most socially equitable engine type, since more affluent first owners pay a higher share of the car’s lifetime costs and thus make it more accessible to lower-income consumers who would buy their cars on the second- or third-hand market.

  • Already today, commuters, company car users and taxi drivers who drive large amounts of kilometers could already save money by switching to electric cars due to lower running costs.

  • More affordable electric cars with moderate battery range entering the market in 2021 and 2022 will decrease costs for several consumer groups planning to buy a new car including urban and suburban residents, pensioners, or families switching to an electric vehicle as a second car.

  • Bonuses and tax cuts are important national incentives to tackle high upfront costs for first owners while also increasing the market share of electric cars and hence the second-hand market, which in turn will benefit second and third owners.

  • In contrast, alternatives to battery electric cars such as plug-in hybrids or cars with conventional engines powered with new types of fuels bring little to no benefit.

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General, noted: "The EU's CO2 emission thresholds for cars are clearly hitting the target. What was more or less sci-fi five years ago, is rapidly becoming a realistic opportunity for consumers across Europe. (…) For those that depend on a car, charging an electric vehicle must become as easy as fueling a petrol one. That is why we advise the EU to push for more and better charging infrastructure, with easy payment methods and where the prices should also be easily comparable per kilowatt hour."

More information, the full report and the executive summary