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Old 12-14-2018, 12:27 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Depreciation is a sticky subject even between manufacturers and models though. It's difficult to make solid comparisons there, but I think largely from what I have seen there are plenty of ICE cars on the road that depreciate as fast or faster. It can be kind of a craps-shoot IMHO.

Even so, I never put too much thought into that side, as I always *intend* to keep cars until the wheels fall off. (I've also decided to never buy another car that is less than two years old ever again!)

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Old 12-14-2018, 02:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Let's say we buy a $30,000 vehicle new and drive it for 15 years, then sell it for $2,000. That's $28,000 in depreciation. In the process, we've put 180,000 miles on it. $28,000 / 180,000 miles = $0.15 per mile.

If the car got 30 MPG and gas was $3, the cost of fuel to travel 180,000 miles is $18,000. 180,000 miles / $18,000 = $0.10 per mile.

So depreciation is still 1.5x more than the cost of fuel.

My point is, depreciation is generally the biggest expense of a vehicle. Cost of fuel is a minor consideration with regards to financial decision making relative to the cost of the vehicle. I'm on an forum where financially illiterate people proclaim their great financial savings from having purchased a new EV since they pay 1/4 as much in "fuel" driving electric. They totally ignore that they just spent $40k to "save" all that money, and that their vehicles will be worth 1/4 of that in 4 years when they decide to save money all over again by purchasing a new vehicle.
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:05 PM   #13 (permalink)
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My point is, depreciation is generally the biggest expense of a vehicle. Cost of fuel is a minor consideration with regards to financial decision making relative to the cost of the vehicle. I'm on an forum where financially illiterate people proclaim their great financial savings from having purchased a new EV since they pay 1/4 as much in "fuel" driving electric. They totally ignore that they just spent $40k to "save" all that money, and that their vehicles will be worth 1/4 of that in 4 years when they decide to save money all over again by purchasing a new vehicle.
Definitely a solid point. It's the reason I waited so long to get an EV.

I had pipe dreams of converting my Miata to electric along the way, but even that gave me fits trying to work out a way to do it that made economic sense. Clearly, it did not. :/
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm certainly not disparaging people who purchase new EVs either, as I've entertained the idea. Not everything comes down to best financial practices. I've not been in an i3, but it looks like a fun car, and it's on my radar of potential EVs. Biggest complaint I see is lack of tire options, which I could live with.
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:58 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Tires were my number one concern with the i3, but ultimately less important than having a car that I really just enjoy being in as my daily driver. And honestly, they are low concern at that. It's not likely Bridgestone is ever going to just stop making them entirely anytime soon. The only real challenge is timeliness of getting replacements in an emergency. That plus no spare should give people pause about travelling far out of town unless getting a flat-bed tow and waiting on shipping is acceptable. (Not something I worry about at all for local use with other cars available during the down time.)

In that regard, something like a used LEAF is FAR more practical and cost effective for most people dependent on a single car for daily needs.
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Old 12-15-2018, 11:17 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Something that I was thinking about just now is the actual opportunity cost with ICE cars. It takes time just to fill the tank. And for the most part, one must be present every single time that is done. Obviously, charging on the go complicates this argument for EVs.

More often than not however, for the ICE cars, I have to devote extra time to just getting to a gas station plus the 5 minutes or so it takes to get the tank filled (sometimes even longer here in Oregon without self-serve fueling). It's difficult to put a number on it, but I'd guess that it robs me of at least 15 minutes of my time on average with no station within 2 miles of home and nothing convenient with traffic during my work commute. Taking the same 24MPG figure with the Miata, I'd need to use 62.5 gallons of gas to go 1500 miles, which would be 7 fills without running down to fumes at any point.

7 fills x 15 minutes = 1h 45m of time spent

If I were to apply the same standard of using most of the battery capacity (60 mi to be safe) of my i3 before charging, I'd have to do that 25 times. At home, in total, I'd say I spend about 30 seconds on both connecting and disconnecting the charger each time.

25 charges x 30 seconds = 12m 30s

1:45:00 - 12:30 = 1:32:30 difference.

Again, that's just for 1500 miles. Few people only travel that far in a year. Bump that up to 15,000 and it is a whopping 15 hours difference. Using a median personal income of $865 weekly for all full-time workers in 2017 per the US BLS, or $21.63/hr -

15hr x $21.63/hr = $324 per year lost to time spent fueling.

Other time costs with oil changes (at least two) bump that incrementally higher with another 30 minutes or so.
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Old 12-15-2018, 11:25 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I think the biggest issue with cost comparisons for EVs is that a lot of this stuff is hidden in the details.

I.e., even replacing spark plugs costs little out of pocket, but what is one's time worth to do it?
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Old 12-15-2018, 12:19 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Those are the huge strengths of an EV. Lower cost/time of maintenance, refueling from home, and low cost per mile.

EVs need those huge advantages because they suffer 1 serious disadvantage, and it's the battery. Essentially it's a $10,000 fuel tank, that doesn't hold very much fuel, takes a long time to fill, needs environmental conditioning, shrinks (degrades) over time, and weighs a lot.
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Old 12-15-2018, 01:12 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Those are the huge strengths of an EV. Lower cost/time of maintenance, refueling from home, and low cost per mile.

EVs need those huge advantages because they suffer 1 serious disadvantage, and it's the battery. Essentially it's a $10,000 fuel tank, that doesn't hold very much fuel, takes a long time to fill, needs environmental conditioning, shrinks (degrades) over time, and weighs a lot.
Mostly true. But again, these are tradeoffs with other potential costs on the other side.

$10k fuel tank: Seems a fair average cost, but consider that this is the cost for a new battery with full power and range, good for at least another 80k miles in most cases, even longer in many real world cases. An i3 driver recently posted a picture to the i3 facebook group of his odometer at 222,222km (138,082 miles) and still going strong. Coincidentally, my son's Ford Escape motor destroyed itself this last month at 138,xxx miles. It was dead in the water. No more range when the rods poke through the block!

The cost to have the work done with a used motor was over $4k. A completely rebuilt motor would have pushed that closer to $6k. (I chose the DIY route for about $1500 total and taking my chances on salvage motor, but my time isn't factored into that.)

Additionally, manufacturers are improving battery management and capacity ratings to provide as much as 80% or more capacity remaining at that 100k mile mark. My state mandates 120k miles and ten years warranty to no less than 80% capacity on all new EVs sold in recent years. I don't expect that to come up as an issue at all unless a module in my battery fails - in which case the modular design of the BMW pack allows replacement of just 1 of the 8.

I would expect a complete battery replacement to carry the full manufacturer warranty as well, which is 8 years and 100k miles.

Capacity: No contest. Clear win on range for ICE for most EVs currently on the road except Teslas.

Weight: Less clear. My i3 weighs less than 2900 lbs with the range extender. The battery only version weighs just a hair over 2600. Much of that is owed to carbon fiber and aluminum construction, but as such, the battery is able to be significantly smaller and lighter as well.

Fill time: Clear trade-off between local and extended miles driven. As I pointed out in the previous post, I plug in at home and spend comparatively no time doing it. Out of town trips are another story, but that is also why I got a range extender that I have yet to need in the 3+ weeks I have had the car.

Environmental Conditioning Requirement: Yes, and no. Over-hyped from what I have learned (at least where I live with an average winter low of 34F). The i3 won't even do anything with the battery if it is over 45 degrees even when set to precondition before departure. It's simply not necessary, and since I keep mine in a garage overnight which is warmer, it's rarely an issue on the coldest days at least when I leave. The worst range reduction happens as temperatures drop into the 20's and below, and a substantial portion of that is the expense of staying warm inside the car. Opting to forgo cabin heat can add 10-20% to the range. (Heated seats have a much smaller hit.) I can see that being a significant problem in other parts of the country if commute distance is long and parking is outside, but most people don't go more than 30 miles in a day.

High summer temperatures are also being better handled with newer EVs, having abandoned schemes like Nissan's poor planning with air cooling for the early Leaf.
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Old 12-15-2018, 01:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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One thing I constantly bring up is that by far the biggest expense for most people is depreciation.
Makes me glad I'm not most people :-) I think that except for the Insight*, just about every car I've ever owned has been pretty close to fully depreciated. Indeed, just looking at the local Craigslist, I could probably sell the '88 Toyota pickup for about twice what I paid for it, a decade ago!

Similarly for replacement battery cost vs the maintenance & repair of IC engines. If you pay someone else, the expenses are probably comparable; if you do your own work, it's much cheaper to repair an IC engine. And if you enjoy mechanical work, as I do, the value of your time really isn't an issue.

*Even that was bought used, and a ballpark calculation suggests that I've saved about enough on gas to pay the difference.

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