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costs for fuel, electricity, taxes, insurance, and maintenance. The
main differences in the life cycle costs of conventional and battery-
electric vehicles are illustrated in Fig. 22.
According to this study, conventional and electric vehicles have a
completely different cost structure, which is substantiated for the
most part in the high differences between the purchase costs (an
electric vehicle is significantly more expensive than a conventional
vehicle) and the operating costs (an electric vehicle is significantly
less expensive than a conventional vehicle).
From Fig. 23 it is evident that battery electric vehicles start to be-
come more attractive for the customer than combustion engine ve-
hicles at an oil price of approx. 130 USD per barrel (with an assumed
battery price of 500 USD per kWh; kilometrage: 14,500 km).
One possibility for adapting the cost structure of electric vehicles
to the cost structure of conventional vehicles, that the user is more
familiar with, is the development of battery leasing models. Here
the expensive component, the battery, is taken out of the purchase
price of a vehicle and financed via a monthly leasing payment. For
example, Renault offers this financing model for the electric vehic-
le Fluence Z.E. that has been on the market since September 2011.
Fig. 24 shows that with conservative assumptions for energy and
gasoline costs, the electric vehicle is indeed still more expensive
than the conventionally powered Fluence Dynamique but, through
battery leasing, the purchase and operating costs of both propulsi-
on concepts are similar.
Whether innovative financing models such as battery leasing incre-
ase users’ disposition to buy will be shown with the market intro-
duction of the first series production models in the next few years.
A large-scale fleet trial with different electric vehicles in the 90s
in the Swiss city of Mendrisio clear demonstrated that innovative
sales models can be the determining factors for success. After in-
troduction of battery leasing, significantly more vehicles were sold
in the city than were previously sold through conventional sales
[Piffaretti (2011)]. As one of the first German manufacturers, Smart
announced that it would offer the Electric Drive with a combination
of vehicle purchase and battery leasing, starting in 2012 [Automobil-
woche (2011)].
Due to the operating cost advantages of electric vehicles, these will
first pay-back financially with high vehicle utilization. Consequent-
ly, the first noteworthy penetration of electric vehicles that extends
beyond the private purchase of early adopters should be expected
in vehicle fleets. These could be car sharing and company fleets, as
well as delivery vehicles, taxis and municipal vehicle fleets.
Fig. 22: Distribution of life cycle costs (main cost drivers) of conventional and battery
electric vehicles for a useful life of 5 years
»Of central importance for the acceptance of electric cars is
the TCO relative to the combustion engine cars. Other factors,
such as the oil price, enter into the purchase considerations
via the relative TCO.«
Marco Piffaretti, Managing Director, Protoscar SA
24 Authors own illustration I Assumption: Battery size 16 kWh, kilometrage: 10,000 km/year
Chapter 2