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Are electric cars cheaper to maintain than gas vehicles?

New research from a German automotive Institute suggests that electric cars could cost 35 percent less to maintain than their combustion counterparts, Ingram writes.

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / December 7, 2012

A Mercedes electric smart compact car is charged at a charging station during the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, in this September 2011 file photo. Electric motors are incredibly simple in operation whereas internal combustion engines can be made up of hundreds or thousands of parts, Ingram writes.

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/File


Driving an electric car has plenty of advantages, but many owners also like the simplicity of their vehicles.

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An electric motor is incredibly simple in operation. In contrast, internal combustion engines can be made up of hundreds of parts--even thousands, in particularly advanced engines.

That's why it's perhaps unsurprising to hear that new research suggests electric cars could cost 35 percent less to maintain than their combustion counterparts (via TheGreenCarWebsite).

A study conducted at the Institute for Automotive Research (IFA) at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University in southern Germany, concluded that anEV's simplicity pays dividends over longer ownership periods.

While the initial cost of electric cars is still high, they're not only cheaper to "fuel", but are expected to chew through consumable items much more slowly. 

The study found that over eight years, with a relatively low annual mileage of 5,000 miles per year, a typical small, combustion-engined car would cost 3,650 Euros, or $4,770 in maintenance.

That includes typical maintenance like oil changes, brakes, tires, spark plugs, filters and more.

In contrast, an equivalent electric vehicle would cost only 2,350 Euros--$3,071.

Not only do electric vehicles lack many of the components found on internal combustion vehicles, butremaining consumables like brakes tend to last longer--something even drivers of more conventionalhybrid vehicles are finding.

It's an aspect even the carmakers themselves are pushing as a big advantage--Ford compiled a list of all the parts its Focus Electric doesn't have, showing just how little maintenance the car needs.

The figures will naturally vary depending on the cars being compared, and the research doesn't take into account the cost of replacing battery packs, when they eventually wear out.

Even so, it still points towards EVs being considerably cheaper to run--particularly for the first owner, who may not have to worry about the car's long-term costs.

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