Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, and National Renewable Energy labs, and the University of Tennessee, have published a comprehensive analysis of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for 12 sizes of vehicles ranging from compact sedans up to Class 8 tractors with sleeper cabs.
The study considers five different powertrains (internal combustion engine, hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid-electric, fuel-cell-electric, and battery-electric) and 12 cost components (purchase cost, depreciation, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repair, taxes, registration fees, tolls and parking, payload capacity and labor).
Previous analyses of TCO, particularly those dealing with alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), have often focused on the purchase cost and the fuel cost. While these are two of the most important factors making up the cost of the vehicle, we find sizeable variations in other operational costs across powertrains, size classes, and usage parameters. We use vehicles modeled in Autonomie to estimate vehicle costs and fuel economy along with fuel price projections from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and focus on developing internally consistent estimates for other relevant cost parameters.
Important additive analyses in this study include systematic analysis of vehicle depreciation, in-depth examination of insurance premium costs, comprehensive maintenance and repair estimates, analysis of all relevant taxes and fees, and considerations of specific costs applicable to commercial vehicles. This study, which considers these additional cost components, provides a more holistic and comprehensive perspective of TCO for a wider range of vehicle sizes, types, and vocations than have previously been analyzed.—Burnham et al.
Among the many findings was that the estimated scheduled maintenance cost for a light-duty battery-electric vehicle (BEV) totals 6.1 cents per mile, while a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) totals 10.1 cents per mile.
A BEV lacks an ICEV’s engine oil, timing belt, oxygen sensor, spark plugs and more, and the maintenance costs associated with them. The hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) and the plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) share costs with both the ICEV and the EV but save money on brake maintenance.
Per-mile maintenance costs by powertrain. (*Service intervals that vary by powertrain) Burnham et al.
After aggregating the cost components, the team calculated a lifetime TCO for comparison across vehicles of different types and attributes. For a small SUV in 2025, modeled using Autonomie, based on the assumptions chosen, the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) has the lowest cost, followed by the conventional gasoline-fueled spark-ignition internal combustion engine (ICE-SI).
LCOD across powertrains for light-duty SUV, MY2025. Burnham et al.
The fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), the diesel-fueled compression-ignition internal combustion engine (ICE-CI) vehicle, and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) have similar costs, while the BEV is the most expensive. The researchers found that the lower operating cost (especially fuel and maintenance) is not sufficient to offset the higher incremental cost of purchase.
For the non-combustion vehicles, the cost of ownership is high due to batteries (for plug-in electric vehicles) or the cost of hydrogen fuel for fuelcell electric vehicles (FCEV).
Burnham, Andrew; Gohlke, David; Rush, Luke; Stephens, Thomas; Zhou, Yan; Delucchi, Mark A.; Birky, Alicia; Hunter, Chad; Lin, Zhenhong; Ou, Shiqi; Xie, Fei; Proctor, Camron; Wiryadinata, Steven; Liu, Nawei; and Boloor, Madhur (2021) “Comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership Quantification for Vehicles with Different Size Classes and Powertrains.” United States: N. p., 2021. Web. doi: 10.2172/1780970