EV Purchase vs Operating Costs

Figure 1: Electric vehicles are represented in many vehicle body types to fit a wide range of driving needs (Image by Vectorstock).

What does it cost to purchase and operate an Electric Vehicle (EV)?

EVs can cost a bit more to buy, but they cost much less to maintain and operate. Over time, fully electric vehicles are both climate savers and money savers!

Purchasing an EV

The price of all cars (used and new, gas, diesel, and electric) soared due to 2020-21 pandemic supply chain shortages. In the last two years, EV production has rebounded and sharply increased to meet demand in this rapidly expanding market. Even accounting for fluctuations in EV sales, the overall trend is of continual upward growth, and increased consumer demand for EVs. By early 2024, EV prices dropped within the affordable rage for many moderate income households. Since they are in high demand, EVs can be hard to find locally. Check out Syracuse and Rochester for a greater assortment and availability.

EV Incentives Explained (NY State & Federal):

Generous federal and NY State incentives help make the transition to an EV a distinct possibility for many households. These incentives slash the price during the point of sale when you buy a used or new EV at a dealership. Check out the side bar links (read with care) for excellent savings on new and used EV models, and Level 2 home chargers. These savings may apply to you!

For people purchasing a used EV, the 2023 federal tax credit (up to $4,000) applies for a qualified used EV (two years or older) that costs under $25,000, with a battery capacity of 7 KWh, purchased from a licensed dealer. Income qualifications for the used EV credit are $150,000 for married filing jointly or a surviving spouse; $112,500 for heads of households; or $75,000 for all other filers. (You will not receive more than what you pay in income taxes.)

For people purchasing a new EV, there is some nuance about what qualifies:

The federal tax credit (up to $7,500) depends on several factors, including the new vehicle's price, its final assembly location, battery component and/or critical minerals sourcing, and your income (which may not exceed $300,000 for married couples filing jointly; $225,000 for heads of household, or $150,000 for all other filers. Note that you will not receive more than what you pay in income taxes.)

The NY State rebate for purchasing a new EV is simpler. As long as the buyer can prove they are a NYS resident, and the car costs less than $42,000 at a participating dealership, with a battery range over 200 miles, you should receive $2,000 off the purchase price. For EVs with lower range, you might get $500 - $1000 off.

To make EV charging more convenient, federal incentives help both individuals and businesses cover the purchase and installation costs of Level 2 chargers. [Check out the sidebar LINK under the "Charging & Range" page] 

Operating an EV costs far less than operating a gas car

Once you have purchased an EV, great savings kick in. On average, fully electric vehicles (known as battery electric vehicles or BEVs) cost 60% less to fuel and 50% less to maintain than comparable gasoline car models! Your electric bill will go up, but your gasoline bill will drop dramatically, adding up to far better savings. You maintenance bill will be far lower for fully electric EVs since their motors are highly efficient, with far fewer moving parts, thus far less wear and tear.

If you drive the average US daily distance (of 40 miles or less), EVs are more convenient to refuel (eg. you can recharge at home during off-peak energy hours while you sleep. In most cases, this means very few trips to the gas station)! However compared with fueling with gas, fully electric EVs add a little extra time to long trips. Level 3 DC Fast chargers can take 20-30 minutes compared with 10 minutes for fueling with gas. Although finding a charger is easy with plugshare.com the charging infrastructure roll out is still underway. [see Charging and Range page]

Different Categories of EVs

There are two categories of plug-in Electric Vehicles:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) are fully electric. They have no backup gasoline engine, use no gas and have no exhaust pipe. They produce no emissions! BEVs run off a large, powerful, rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, and have legendary acceleration. Their engines are the simplest of all EV models requiring the fewest moving parts so their maintenance costs are the lowest. BEVs are safe, easy to drive, and their weight means they do well on winter roads. The only way to fuel a BEV is by recharging its battery at a Level 1, 2, or 3 charger.

Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) have both an electric motor and a backup gas engine. Energy is first drawn from the battery so for local trips, no gas is used and no emissions produced. PHEVs has relatively short electric ranges since they have smaller batteries than BEVs. For longer trips, the gas engine kicks in and PHEVs can fuel up both with gasoline at regular service stations and recharge their batteries at Level 1 or Level 2 EV Chargers. Most PHEVs cannot recharge at Level 3 DC fast chargers. Plug-in Hybrids save beautifully on fuel, but they do cannot boast the maintenance savings of fully electric BEVs.

Hybrids (HEV) run off a gas engine, but are not true EVs because you cannot recharge their batteries by plugging them in. We mention them here because they get better mileage than most gas cars due to their efficient design and an additional battery pack that re-charges using brake friction. 

The best way to understand the differences in EV models is to test them, new or used. No special skills are required to drive an EV. They are easy to drive, safe, smooth, quiet, and very responsive!


Holly Payne
Environment Educator
607-272-2292 x243

Last updated February 26, 2024