Vincentric data provider gives EVs a bad rap for maintenance costs

Vincentric data provider gives EVs a bad rap for maintenance costs

Hi all,

Vincentric is a Detroit based, vehicle ownership costs data provider. Its customers include AAA, Yahoo Autos and hundreds of other vehicle sites. They are pretty much the exclusive data provider in determining vehicle ownership costs and therefore has tremendous reach in influencing the buying decision of tens of millions of consumers. This is fine and all, however, the problem is that it appears that they are inflating the costs of EV maintenance and in some scenarios, they estimate higher maintenance costs for an EV then their gas vehicle equivalent.

To give you an example, the Canadian version of AAA (CAA) runs an online vehicle costs calculator that is powered by Vincentric. Here is what they state are the costs for maintenance (in Canadian dollars) for the following EV vehicles for 30,000km:

2016 Nissan leaf: $1,148.41
2017 Nissan leaf: $1,214.81
2018 Nissan leaf: $1,229.26
2018 Kia Soul (gas): $1,589.88
2018 Kia Soul (EV): $1,188.32

2018 Ford Focus EV: $1,336.83
2018 Ford Focus (gas): $1,297.01
2017 Ford Focus (EV): $1,319.50
2017 Ford Focus (gas): $1292.43

As you can see, aside from the Kia Soul EV having lower maintenance costs than its gas counterpart, Vincentric shows that EV maintenance costs are either comparable in costs or cost more than their gas counterparts. I contacted Vincentric to find out if they average in battery replacement into their calculations which perhaps would explain high maintenance costs. They responded and said they do not.

Personal experience of owning an EV and scientific papers conclude that EVs cost much less in maintenance than a gas vehicle. It doesn't make sense that Vincentric would show that a Ford Focus EV costs more in maintenance than a gas version of the Ford Focus.

Here are some studies below comparing EV and ICEV maintenance costs. All of them show lower costs of maintenance:

Cost analysis of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles including Maintenance & Repair Costs and Resale Values
18.82% (including tires and battery replacement)
49% reduction (including tires, not including battery replacement)

Total Cost of Ownership Model for Current Plug-in Electric Vehicles
78% reduction (excluding tires, No battery replacement)
150,000 miles

An Analysis of the Retail and Lifecycle Cost of Battery-Powered Electric Vehicles
28% reduction (includes tires)

German automotive Institute
35% less (No battery pack. Includes tires)

DTsea | 23. Mai 2018

never heard of them

Rocky_H | 23. Mai 2018

Yeah, I've never heard of them either.

jordanrichard | 23. Mai 2018

What do they consider / factoring in as “maintenance”.

Over the course of 30,000 km (18,641 miles) in a Tesla, would require only 3 tires rotations (free at service center).

Can’t get much cheaper than free.

johnyi | 23. Mai 2018

That's too small a window anyway. you're not getting into any of the big ticket items on an ICE vehicle yet. Unless they are looking at a bigger window, and only reporting a per-30km average? Still that has to include more than maintenance; no way any of these cars cost $1k per 30km long term just for maintenance, even in Canadian dollars.

ryanlogtenberg | 24. Mai 2018

I've never heard of Vincentric either until I queried the source for CAA's vehicle cost calculator and found out that the data source in Vincentric. Digging deeper I found out that Vincentric powers most auto sites for calculating maintenance costs and therefore has tremendous power for influencing buying decisions. | 25. Mai 2018

Perhaps they include dealer recommended services for EVs, such as

Fuel additive every 5,000 miles
Steam clean engine, every 20,000 miles
Electron flush every 5,000 miles
Battery tuneup, every 10,000 miles

(yes, these are made up EV services)

Should_I | 25. Mai 2018

On the flip side of this, the Tesla sycophants lie to themselves and everyone else about EV costs.
Never before have I owned a car so hard on expensive tires, or that recommended AC purge and refill or that needed a $2200 repair(charger) at 65k miles. Driving it in winter it is very inefficient, caused my electricity budget to spike more than I would have spent on gas for my old beater full-size pickup V8 crewcab 4wd.

Don't get me wrong, love the car, can't see me going back to an ICE for daily duty, bit most here will inflate ICE costs and pretend they burst into flame spontaneously and take an hour a week in line at the gas station and so on and so on to exaggerate the pros of EV ownership.

It is a car, it has maintenance costs and repair costs, and insurance costs. The repair and insurance costs are high due to the lack of parts source options and the hassles of repairing aluminum body which will come down since other companies are using more aluminum.

I will say regenerative braking reduces brake service vs. other performance cars, but I really don't think it makes it any better than other commuter vehicles. It is a very heavy car and in cold weather you end up using the brakes a lot, granted in summer they hardly get used. | 26. Mai 2018

@Shoud - I expect you can put a set of $100 tires on your Tesla and still outperform the pickup. My NSX went through tires in 8K miles or so. If you want sports car handling and performance, the tires are an important and expensive part of the equation. If you want long tire life, that can be had at a reasonable price, but you'll need 19" tires (on an S), and ones with great tread ratings (there are quite a few). They should last 40-60K miles, but will not handle as well as the 21" low profile high-performance tires.

Repair costs will also vary by vehicle. Tesla's repairs seem to be in line with other similar cars like an Audi A8L, MB SL-Class or Jaguar XJ - except there are a lot less things to go bad. Still, you' are right for pointing out there are wear parts on every car no matter if EV or ICE.

I'm surprised that your winter EV driving is so inefficient. I you really should contact service as something must be wrong. Even if your power consumption was double to 600 Wh/mi, during the winter (which I don't think is possible), you should be in the range of a 45 mpg vehicle. Then again maybe your V8 pickup is super efficient. I thought most old V8s were in the 10-15 mpg range.

The other factor I don't know is your electrical rates. I could see the Tesla being more fuel expensive if your rates are in the $1.20 kWh range. Our rates during charging at midnight to 7am are $0.11 kWh (and we have solar offsets to further reduce the effective rates).

Anyway - worth having your car checked out if you're using anything like 600 Wh/mi during the winter. I'd expect a worse case to be in the 450 Wh/mi range and most should be below 400 Wh/mi in winter. If you take it in, let us know what service finds out.

jordanrichard | 26. Mai 2018

Should_I, routine maintenance and repairs are 2 different things. An oil change on an ICE is maintenance. A failed oil pump is a repair.

Ever had to repair a leaking head gasket on a an ICE car.....? That’s an easy $2,000 repair and it is a common repair.
How about $800 for a timing belt change, that is considered routine maintenance.

Any routine items that are replaced/adjusted on a set schedule be it miles or time, is “maintenance”.

jordanrichard | 26. Mai 2018

I hit Save too soon.

So looking at the maintenance requirements for a Tesla, it’s tire rotations every 6K, brake fluid change every 2 years, battery coolant change every 12 years. That’s it. The Annual Services are 100% optional. Go 100,000 miles in a BMW, Honda, etc...and only do tire rotations and brake fluid changes and see what happens.

Rocky_H | 29. Mai 2018

@jordanrichard, Quote: " it’s tire rotations every 6K, brake fluid change every 2 years, battery coolant change every 12 years."

You're mixing up a couple of things. Yes, brake fluid at 2 years, but then the battery coolant is every 4 years. You're thinking of the oil in the gearbox that they change every 12 years.

ryanlogtenberg | 29. Mai 2018

I went ahead and averaged the 4 studies I could find (shown at the beggining of this thread) that compares BEV and ICEV maintenance and the result is that a BEV has 43.3% lower costs for maintenance than a comparable ICEV.

43.4% lower costs.

I'm going to follow up with Vincentric to see if they will fix their numbers. I'll also contact Electrek, Green Car Reports, and Clean Technica and see if they will write something up about this.