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Cost Of Owning An EV vs ICE

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While the government is pushing for EV (electric vehicle) ownership, we take a look at the actual costs of owning an EV vs an ICE (internal combustion engine).

Whenever the topic of electric vehicle (EV) transition comes up in any conversation, aside from the usual green factor and supreme refinement offered, one other plus point commonly brought up that supposedly promotes the proliferation of these fully-electric automobiles is the promise of a lower overall ownership cost.

Well there are actually a few unexpected aspects where ICE car ownership in Singapore can actually be more affordable than a battery-powered alternative.

But before getting to that, let us start first by noting that there is no distinction between Certificate of Entitlement (COE) for combustion-engined cars and EVs. Comparing like-for-like too between the available petrol and electrified models (like the Kona and XC40), it should go without saying that the expensive batteries do indeed slightly bump up the list price of those with no tailpipes.

That said, the eventual retail price for EVs are, at least in 2024, likely to be marginally lower than their equivalent comparable fuel-drinking counterparts, thanks to the ongoing financial incentives offered by the Singapore government. These incentives include a rebate on the Additional Registration Fee (ARF), in addition to the Vehicle Emissions Scheme (VES).

EVs in 2024 can essentially be had with up to $40,000 worth of government rebates, with these savings pulling a fair bit of weight in bringing the price of these all-electric automobiles to not exactly be cheaper but at least on par with their petrol-guzzling counterparts. Though it is perhaps pertinent to note here too that these financial incentives are already to be slashed from what they were in 2023, with further cuts coming in the future as well.

Handily, one undeniable upside to EVs is that thanks to the lack of necessary routine servicing, the maintenance costs associated with it will undoubtedly be less than its petrol-powered equivalents. Unfortunately, the aforementioned savings made in less frequent trips back to the dealer will likely have to go to the insurance agent instead, as premiums for EVs in Singapore are generally higher than ICE cars.

Similarly, another cost where ICE cars come out on top relative to EVs is actually road tax. The annual road tax of a middle-of-the-road family EV, say an MG4 or BYD Atto 3, is actually nearly double (in the region of around $1,500) relative to the likes of a Toyota Corolla (SG742) or Honda HR-V (SG684).

Now moving on to the cost of EV battery charging where owners really have the luxury of enjoying the (comparatively) cheaper residential electricity rates for their EVs, the higher typical 50 cents per kWh cost relative to 30 cents per kWh for home charging lowers the price delta between just having to fill up a regular ICE car with $2.65 per litre worth of petrol.

What should nevertheless also be taken into account here is that local drivers surprisingly have a high average annual mileage of approximately 20,000km annually with the cars.

Though in spite of this surprising fact, the eventual approximate annual cost savings from topping up an EV over an ICE car from predominantly public charging is actually about $2,000, which is not all that significant after factoring in the higher insurance premiums.

A breakdown of the costs*NB. The ones marked in blue are ICEs or hybrid; the others are electric cars.

Disclaimer: The above prices are accurate as of 23.2.24

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