Electric cars: savings or cash

An EV costs more than the sticker price, so is it still worth it when considering shipping and maintenance?

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Chris Bly decided to take it in September 2021.

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The chief network engineer has been a longtime Audi driver, but as his final lease contract approaches, Blay has become interested in the Teslas that fills the roads.

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“Tesla released the Model 3, and it was meant to appeal to the premium mid-range market,” says Blay. “Since we had another gas-powered car for long-distance trips, I decided we could get an electric car and the Tesla was my favorite.”

Switching to electric cars is something more Canadians are considering these days. New zero-emission vehicle registrations have risen in the past five years alone, from 3,488 in the first quarter of 2017 to 26,018 in the first quarter of 2022. This represents an increase of 646 percent.

With gas prices on the rise, it is clear why some consider this a cheaper option. But is it really? Let’s take a look before we dispose of the tank and plug it in at home.

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Initial costs

The costs Canadians are likely to consider first are the costs of the electric vehicle itself, along with shipping costs. It is well known that electric cars are more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts. In some cases, the spread can be in the tens of thousands, says Wilkie Kamm, portfolio manager and senior investment advisor at BMO Private Wealth.

“My business partner bought a Tesla Model Y, which is probably the gas-powered equivalent of a Mercedes SUV,” Cam says. “It will cost you about $60,000 in the base model, and a Tesla Y will cost you about $80,000.”

However, it is quite clear that the cost of gas versus electricity to run your car is much lower. This is true even if you use the supercharging stations, where a premium is paid to charge your car in less than an hour. That’s what Bly found after owning an electric and gas car last year.

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“If you’re going for super chargers, it’s not cheap. It’s definitely cheaper at home,” says Bly, speaking from London, Ont.

“The goal is not to fill in the blank, it’s just to get to the next destination or home to charge your car and go home.”

At home is where the cost savings really come in. Blay usually ships his car overnight when it’s cheaper, spending $22 over the past 30 days charging his car. He says the gas equivalent would have been $178, and savings of $155.

“If you look at the initial outlay of about $20,000…you break down more than five or six years,” says Cam, for drivers who drive about 20,000 kilometers a year.

For Blay, that cost has also been reduced from a $5,000 rebate from the Ontario government. The discount is no longer available, but there are still other incentives Canadians can consider when considering purchasing an electric vehicle, says Cam.

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Hidden installation costs

However, not all news is good. Play and Cam warn that there are some hidden costs to consider before buying an electric car. This can start as soon as you drive home.

“The car doesn’t come with a charging cable or charger, and that’s going to cost quite a bit for a typical basic charging cable, around $260,” Cam says. “You’ll also need a charger…a level one would be about $400 or $500, all the way down to about $60,000 for a level three charger.”

This comes down to your lifestyle preferences. A Level 1 EV charger typically charges in 11 to 20 hours, while Level 2 charges between three to eight hours. The level 3 charger, used in the supercharging stations, will charge in less than an hour.

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For Bly, he found that a 240-volt level two charger was enough to charge a Tesla overnight. The installation price was about $100, then he had to make sure his electrical panel could support it.

What about insurance?

There is, too insurance And maintenance to consider, as insurers remain cautious about electric vehicles. In British Columbia, where Cam lives, there is a $600 annual difference in endurance between a Tesla Model Y and a similar Mercedes SUV, according to Cam.

An online calculator comparing a 2022 Tesla Model Y to a 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 gave insurance estimates of $166.07 and $1,009.55 in a row. This is an insured date of 2010, a date of birth of 1991 and no accident history for both vehicles. However, prices can go down or up based on factors like age, zip code, and driving history.

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Aside from insurance, an EV battery can also lead to additional expenses.

“If there’s a problem with the battery, it can be really expensive and you might have to wait a long time to get it fixed, and that’s a higher insurance cost and a higher deductible,” Cam says.

However, Cam also added that maintenance in electric vehicles is generally much less, since there are fewer parts. This is what Blay also found with his own car, where he just had to refill washer fluid and change his tires.


Canadians should definitely consider electric vehicles as the world shifts away from gas models. And now it seems like a great time. While depreciation will likely be faster for these cars, Cam says we’re not seeing that now thanks to supply chain disruptions.

“For a car that is expected to have a higher rate of depreciation, rental costs will go up, so I don’t think car dealers will get a free lunch for everyone if they expect the car to depreciate further,” Cam says.

As for Bly, he couldn’t be happier with his choice, and says he’ll likely replace his other gas car with an electric model when the time comes.

“I had nothing but positives in my experience,” Bly says. “It’s a fun car to drive. It’s a fun experience.”

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.



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