The savings on fuel unsurprisingly played a large role. CR determined that EV drivers spend about 60 percent less to keep their vehicles topped up, and owners whose cars have a range of 250 miles or more can handle 92 percent of their charging at home instead of public fast chargers. However, maintenance was also key — reliability reports suggested that EV owners were paying about half as much to maintain and repair their cars as people with gas vehicles. While repairs could go up (such as fresh batteries) if you buy a used EV, you still stand to reap a large chunk of the lifetime savings.
CR also found that depreciation was comparable to that for gas cars even after factoring in the incentives.
There are some caveats. The savings account for federal and state incentives. While federal tax credits no longer apply to brands like GM and Tesla, the value proposition clearly varies depending on how much your state is willing to offer. CR warned that weather and electricity rates could play a role. You might not see as many gains if you live in a cold state (and thus get less mileage on a charge) with high utility rates versus someone who can drive in warm weather year-round at low prices. States like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, and Texas even slap fees on EVs.
Nonetheless, this suggests that you shouldn’t be put off by the higher up front prices of EVs, at least so long as incentives tip the balance. However, that still involves overcoming public perception — and that might not change until there are truly affordable EVs on the market, which might take a while.