May 12, 2009

Do Electric Vehicles cost less to maintain?

Car manufacturers and dealers think so:

"Car dealers are nervous a shift from gas to electric cars will mean that they don't see their customers as often as they currently do.

The design of the electric car is really simple. There's not a lot of parts, so there won't be much need for maintenance says Mark Perry, Nissan (NSANY) Americas' head of Product Planning. When he said that, was speaking to a group of dealers at an event in New York to show off Nissan's upcoming electric. (We stood outside the circle of dealers and listened in.) "

I've heard a contention that transmissions are the most important cause of car scrappage (" you can call any wrecking yard sales clerk and ask him why most of the cars in his yard are there ,if not because of an accident that rendered them undriveable,and he will tell you the same thing. The used mechanical component that is most often sold out is the automatic transmission. Among working class people who drive older cars this is accepted as a given as certain as death and taxes").

So, what about transmissions?

Well, EVs (and Extended range EVs like the Volt) don't have them. EVs generally do have a reduction gear to reduce the ratio of engine rpm to wheel rpm, which is often called a transmission. However, it's not the multi-speed affair with a torque converter and one or more clutches that drive conventional vehicles, and so reliability will be very high.

Regenerative braking greatly reduces brake wear. Brake maintenance is a significant cost. Even Prius brake wear is greatly reduced, and it only has partial regenerative braking. Taxi drivers with Priuses are very happy about that cost reduction.

EV's have no starter motors, transmissions, mufflers, tuneups (plugs/injection, air filters), timing or other belts, fuel pumps, engine coolant (with fan, radiator, hoses and pump), valves, oil (with filter and pump), exhaust pipes or muffler, catalytic converter, supercharger, idle control, or fuel injection. The engine has only one moving part, almost no internal friction, and is likely to last forever.

Wouldn't all of this likely reduce maintenance costs by roughly 75%?

Jay Leno has a 1909 Detroit Electric model that's still working just fine - it's even still using the original battery.


The Leaf’s service manual says the Leaf requires ABSOLUTELY NO SERVICE. No oil change, transmission fluid, spark plugs, tuneups, oil filter, gas filter, air filter, radiator leaks, muffler changes, power steering fluid, transmission radiator leaks, brake pads, emission control sensor failures, air care inspections...

The only recommendation: inspect/replace brake fluid every 30,000 miles.


Fleet EV managers seem particularly aware of the potential maintenance savings:

“On an equivalent 100 mile-per-day diesel vehicle, we spend roughly $900 per year in preventive maintenance – oil changes, filter changes, anti-freeze adds, and eventually transmission oil changes. With the electric vehicles, we take that down to $250 per year.

The electric trucks are only equipped with four grease fittings and no engine or transmission oil. The truck must still be taken to look at brake lines and other wear components that may be cracked. Overall, there is virtually nothing that goes wrong with these things.” – Staples vehicle fleet manager

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They still have coil springs, brake pads, brake discs, track rod ends, steering columns, anti roll bar links, brake pipes and i work in a garage i can tell you electrical parts cost twice as much to replace.