The electric vehicles with the cheapest running costs


Published on

Electric cars are becoming increasingly affordable to own and run.

And if you live in NSW and can take advantage of generous rebates and stamp duty exemptions an EV can be cheaper to run over five years and 75,000km than some of the country's most affordable and popular cars.

That's according to an exclusive analysis of running costs and comparing them with popular petrol-powered cars such as the Mazda3 G25 Evolve, Subaru Forester 2.5i-L and Toyota Camry Hybrid Ascent.

cheapest electric cars running costs

The analysis by electric car website EVcentral found the MG ZS EV to be the most affordable EV to own and run in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, beating the Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf.

The study factored in rebates and incentives offered by the three state governments for which figures were collated, which covers 78% of the Australian population.

The EV trio was the cheapest of 27 cars evaluated - the list includes every EV on sale in the Australian market in September - if you buy and own it in NSW.

As well as all 17 EVs pricing was also calculated for popular models such as the Mazda3 G25, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Subaru Forester 2.5i-L, BMW 320i and Mercedes-Benz GLC300.

Crossing the border to Queensland and Victoria ends in very different results at the top of the running costs field.

That's due to the $3000 rebate on sub-$68,750 EVs and the stamp duty exemption on EVs priced below $78,000 for people buying in NSW. Total savings can top $5540, saving up to $3.03 per day over five years of ownership.

While Victoria provides a similar rebate on more affordable EVs (but no tax breaks), the benefits are eroded by the controversial road user charge of 2.5 cents per kilometre. Over 75,000km it amounts to $1875 in government taxes, taking the gloss off the potential $3000 rebate.

The lack of EV rebates in Queensland - which instead provides a small registration discount for EVs - pushes the Camry and Mazda3 to the top of the list that ranks cars from cheapest to most expensive.

It's a stark indication of the effect incentives and discounts can have on making EVs more appealing.

And it shows that even with high initial purchase prices, the lower cost of running and owning an EV can pay back over time.

The study found the cost of charging many EVs was at least half that of some fuel-efficient petrol-powered alternatives.

The EV running costs took into account the initial taxes and on-road costs as well as annual registration charges, servicing and forecast depreciation costs supplied by

Insurance was calculated by online quotes from NRMA and Budget Direct.

Tyre costs were calculated by sourcing prices for four popular brands and averaging them out, then assuming two replacement sets during the 75,000km theoretical period. EVs were also penalised with 20% higher tyre wear to account for the additional weight and near-instant torque delivery that leads to increased tyre degradation in the real world.

The cost of fuel was assumed as $1.60 per litre for cars that use diesel, $1.75 per litre for those using regular unleaded and $1.85 per litre for those requiring premium unleaded.

Electricity was charged at 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, indicative of a typical household rate.

Those using home solar to charge or taking advantage of free charging subscriptions supplied by Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche can further lower their running costs.

In the premium vehicle market, the Tesla Model 3 has a dominant running cost advantage over its luxury rivals.

While prices of the Tesla Model 3 have reduced by up to 19% over the past year, prices for the rival BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class have been increasing.

And projected Redbook resale figures suggests the Tesla will hurt much less than other luxury brands when it comes time to sell it.

The Model 3 - which has a sub-par four-year warranty and is one of the only cars on the market not to offer a capped price servicing program - also had the lowest electricity costs of any EV.

However, the Tesla was hurt with high insurance estimates.

Still, the most affordable Tesla Model 3 - the Standard Range Plus - was estimated to cost almost half as much to run as its two closest petrol-powered rivals, the BMW 320i and Mercedes-Benz C200.

In NSW, the Model 3 was also predicted to cost just 8c per day more to own than the base model Toyota Camry Hybrid Ascent, which has far fewer features than the Model 3 SR+. The more luxury-focused SL version of the Camry Hybrid was calculated to cost 31% more to own over five years than the Tesla.

Figures were not yet available for the soon-to-arrive Polestar 2 - which matches the Tesla with a $59,900 price tag, before on-road costs - because insurance companies had not yet begun providing quotes and Redbook had not forecast a future resale value. Even in Queensland and Victoria - where EV incentives are lower - it was still more financially beneficial to splurge on the most affordable Tesla over the most expensive Camry.

At the more expensive luxury end of the market daily running costs are amplified due to depreciation, a factor that plays the biggest role in running costs of almost all cars over $100,000.

Predictably, the Porsche Taycan was the most expensive EV to own, even with its free recharging that would only reduce running costs by a few dollars a day.

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

Toby Hagon is one of Australia's most respected motoring writers. A regular contributor to News Corp, Wheels magazine, Qantas magazine and 4x4 Australia, he also features as a motoring expert on ABC Radio and is editor of