And They Ask Me Why I Drink….

What follows began as a reader question about electric cars and their “low maintenance.” I replied to this reader here. She replied to me, below. Since the topic is of general interest, I decided to give it the Treatment, in the manner of fungicide.

First, Samantha, who writes:

I have an engineering degree and you don’t fool me for one second. The engine (in an IC car) is by far the most expensive part of the car. In electric and hydrogen cars, they’re maintenance free. You’re selling horses in the dawn of the age of the motor car.

I’m not selling anything, Samantha. Nor trying to “fool” anyone.

I never claimed the engine in an IC car isn’t “by far the most expensive” part of it. Do you know what a straw man argument is? I did state that in an electric car the battery is extremely expensive. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)

Which is inarguably true.

I also pointed out – in re your original question – that electric cars are not (as you claimed) lower maintenance than IC cars. Maybe the electric motor is – but that is only one part of the EV. Aside from the motor, EVs have many of the same maintenance issues (e.g., wear and tear on brakes ands tires, suspension components as well as the cooling/heating system for the battery, which isn’t] easy for the average person to deal with; in some cases, the EV’s body must be lifted off the chassis to access these systems, etc).

You’re right that an EV doesn’t need oil and air filter changes and occasional tuneups but these are very infrequent in a modern IC car – which you ought to know since you’re an engineer – and such regular maintenance is generally inexpensive, while the EV itself is extremely expensive.

For example, the Nissan Leaf – which is currently the lowest-priced EV available – stickers for $30,000. This is for the version with the low-capacity battery and a 150 mile “best case” range.

This is twice the cost of an IC economy car that’s otherwise similar in terms of size and so on, such as Nissan’s Versa – which stickers for about $15k (and can travel 300-plus miles on a tank).

How many oil and filter changes does that $15k difference pay for? Well, let’s do some math – which engineers are good at. Let’s say an oil change costs $50 and let’s posit that the oil needs to be changed once every 5,000 miles. Let’s call it twice a year, so $100 annually.

The math does not look good…

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