Renault Group

Combustion-powered/electric cars: what’s the real cost?

22 June 2018
5 min
Are electric cars a bargain? Isn’t it more expensive than a trip to the petrol pump? In the grand scheme of things, which car is the most cost-saving? Main points to consider.
by Renault Group

From the purchase value to the cost of using it, figure out what your car really costs and decide which type is the best for you. Should you buy a petrol model, a diesel model, or one of those more recent models that run on electricity? It’s a tough question because you need to take a lot of things into consideration.

With an ever-changing automotive industry, we have more and more choice when it comes to buying a car. And the criteria we rely on when buying are becoming more and more numerous: performance, consumption, comfort, design, size, equipment, energy or even driving feel. For most drivers, the most important criteria is price. It makes sense, since you’ll use your car every day for many years to come.

A lot of criteria to think about

Many people believe that electric vehicles are more expensive than combustion engine vehicles. In reality, it isn’t that simple. Petrol, diesel or electric, all vehicle types are comparable financially speaking. It all depends on how you use the vehicle, the number of kilometres you drive and your travel needs.

But first, you must determine the various expenses related to purchasing a vehicle. Let’s start at the beginning: the purchase price. In a similar category of cars, a diesel model usually costs more than a petrol one, but less than an electric model. However, be aware that in many European countries, tax incentives can offset these price differences.

These price differences are due to the difference in technology used for each car. Indeed, a diesel engine is more difficult to produce than a petrol one. As for electric cars, the price of lithium-ion batteries, a cutting-edge technology, explains in part the overall higher price. That’s why, in the coming years, the major challenge for car manufacturers will be to lower the price of batteries by adapting their production systems.

All brands sell a battery along with the car. Renault offers an additional service in most countries: customers can rent the battery if they wish to pay monthly, in-line with their usage.

Numerous tax incentives

In Europe, many tax credits are available to automatically reduce the purchase price. In order to promote more sustainable means of transport to reduce pollution and combat global warming, the vast majority of countries have put in place incentives to encourage electromobility. Low sales taxes are one of the most common methods.

Note that depending on the country, other incentives are also put into place: annual tax breaks, VAT deduction, free charging, free parking and toll road fees, exemption from registration fees or the right to drive in bus lanes. In order to make electric vehicles more competitive, support services should be comprehensive.


However, the cost of a car is not limited to its purchase price. You must take other costs into consideration. The budget available for purchasing your vehicle depends on several factors: maintenance, insurance, and also what makes it run. And on this point, electric cars are far ahead of their more traditional counterparts, fully making up for their late start.

An electric car costs about 20% less to drive than a similar-sized combustion engine model. First, electricity costs less than petrol or diesel. For a 100-kilometre trip, electricity will cost you less than 3 euros whereas you’d need about 8 euros worth of petrol.

And that isn’t all. You can easily charge your vehicle when electricity costs are at their lowest. Furthermore, in the Netherlands in particular, the flexibility that you have in recharging your vehicle could even get you rewards from the power grid supplier, thanks to the Renault Z.E smart charging app. Smart Charge. Not to mention the fact that some drivers can benefit from “free” electricity by using the power generated by the solar panels on their homes, for example.

And remember that regardless of the vehicle you drive, one thing stays the same: your consumption will also depend on the way you drive. This is also important to consider when you’re buying a vehicle.

Cheaper maintenance cost

An electric car has no gearbox, clutch, spark plugs, exhaust pipes or timing belt. All of these parts require maintenance in conventional cars. Due to a simplified mechanical system, the only parts you need to change in an electric car are the brake pads, the suspension and the wipers. Maintenance costs are therefore reduced by about 25%.

It’s easy to see that electric vehicles have fewer operating expenses and cost less to drive. Moreover, the more you use it, the more cost-effective your electric car becomes. Just the boost you need to get out on the road!

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