Is an electric vehicle cheaper to own than a petrol-driven car?

In the race to net zero, electric vehicle uptake is accelerating rapidly across the globe.

The growing popularity of electric vehicles is no surprise considering every year they become more advanced, powerful and cheaper to own.

So how do they compare to petrol-driven cars?

Before we compare the facts, it’s important to understand both vehicle types.

What is a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV)?

As the name indicates, ZEVs have zero exhaust emissions – making them better for the environment and our health than petrol-driven cars. ZEVs create less waste because they don't need oil, an oil filter or spark plug changes.

Zero emissions vehicles include battery electric vehicles (BEVs – commonly known as EVs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). In this article, we will only be referring to BEVs – fully-electric vehicles operated via rechargeable batteries.

What is an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV)?

An ICEV is a petrol-driven car with a traditional fuel motor. An 'internal combustion engine' is any engine that obtains fuel from a liquid source inside the engine. For example, petroleum, diesel, or liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or simply put, when you see any car filling up at a petrol station, that's an ICE vehicle. In this guide, the term EV will be used to refer to battery electric vehicles and, for simplicity, ICEVs will be referred to as petrol-driven cars.

Now let’s compare.

Fuel costs

The electricity needed to run an EV is much cheaper (measured in cents per kilometre) than the fuel required to drive a petrol-driven car the same distance.

Australian drivers currently pay a fuel excise. This means that every time an owner of a petrol-driven vehicle fills up, a large portion of the cost (up to 42.3 cents per litre for petrol and diesel as at May 2023), funds the development and maintenance of our roads.

On average, it’s estimated that if you drive a zero emissions vehicle you can expect to save up to $1,600 a year on fuel and maintenance costs.

Handy tip: The cleanest and cheapest way to charge your ZEV is by using a renewable energy source, such as solar. And taking advantage of the Solar Homes Program, you have the potential to drive completely carbon neutral, charging your car from the clean power you generate through the day.

Maintenance costs

EVs require less maintenance than petrol-driven cars because they don't need engines, gearboxes, spark plugs, motor oil or exhaust systems.

Brake wear is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking (this means EVs can recharge their batteries using braking power when the car is not accelerating). This makes them very reliable because they contain fewer parts that wear out over time.

On average, service costs are also cheaper, meaning you'll spend less on maintenance overall.

Battery life is a common question for EV owners. Vehicle battery capacity will reduce over time (8-20 years) depending on a number of factors including usage and charging behaviour. Batteries can be repurposed several times before being recycled. Around 95 – 98% of the materials can be extracted and reused when finally recycled.

While EVs require less maintenance, we advise that you contact your EV manufacturer to find out how often your EV will need a service.


Unlike petrol-driven cars, EVs deliver smooth acceleration, giving EV owners confidence when overtaking or merging onto the freeway.

EVs generally have their batteries mounted along the bottom of the vehicle and a lower centre of gravity, resulting in better handling and cornering while driving.

In addition, many are more spacious than similarly sized petrol-driven cars due to the placement of the batteries and the electric motor taking up less space and providing more room for passengers, groceries, or luggage.


Research has shown that driving a vehicle with a battery is just as safe as driving a vehicle that runs on petrol or diesel. Visit EV FireSafe to learn more.

Why choose an all-electric vehicle?

Along with cost and performance benefits, EVs significantly reduce emissions and the amount of air pollution, making our cities and towns more liveable compared to petrol-driven cars.

Additionally, EVs have proven to be more carbon-efficient than petrol-driven cars over their lifecycle (even when powered by fossil fuels), including raw material extraction, manufacturing, fuel cycle and end-of-life recycling.


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