Aside from the environmental benefit, electric cars offer the promise of long-term savings at the pump. Tesla, Nissan, Ford, Porsche, and others have designed and built a range of electric vehicles based on the assumption that lower maintenance and fuel costs will cause customers to switch to electric cars. But with any new technology, it's hard to actually prove. You need real world testing, years of use, and honest manufacturer data to compare against competing gas engine-only offerings.
A recent article by Quartz documenting the experiences of Tesloop, the California-based Tesla car rental company, makes a strong case that electric cars deliver on their promise of bending the cost curve for electric car ownership down ... way down! Tesloop offers one-way Tesla rentals between Los Angeles and San Diego for $49. They've been in business for 5 years and have several Teslas in their fleet with over 300,000 miles. As such, they have reams of maintenance logs, fleet repair bills, electrical charging data, manufacturer fixes and recalls, and user reviews.
What did they find? The short answer is that based on both electric charging costs and lower maintenance expenditures, electric cars are considerably cheaper to own and operate compared to their gas engine powered analogs.
The majority of fleet owners still use diesel and gasoline powered vehicles. Their biggest expenses are fuel (22%) and maintenance and repairs (11%). While electric cars still suffer from the replacement costs of consumables such as tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and etc., they don't have any oil changes, transmission servicing, engine problems to speak of because, well, there aren't any.
And with the skyrocketing cost of gasoline, which is even higher in California than the national average, the cost of recharging an electric car versus a gasoline powered vehicle is considerable.
One might then ask, why is the adoption of electric vehicles in the fleet and heavy-duty space proceeding at a snail's pace? There's an easy answer for that. One, for simply moving people around from point A to B, electric passenger cars are obviously available, but for freight, transport, and long distance hauling there isn't much to choose from. Two, compared with the network of gasoline refueling stations, the electric car charging system is still in its infancy. Third, it takes too long to charge up on the road. I can go from dead empty in my gas car to filled up in about 2 minutes flat.
None of this is to say that the problems of electric car adoption in the fleet space are insurmountable. But electric cars are but one option in a handbasket of available alternatives. They might well excel in the rental and shuttle space while gas/diesel powered alternatives might dominate in the freight/transport sector. Let's wait and see what develops. Buckle up.