Ford Figures $1200 Maintenance Savings with 2010 Focus EVBy John O'Dell February 9, 2011
For as long as we've been writing about electric-drive vehicles, we've pointed out that in addition to fuel savings they would cut maintenance and repair costs because they have much simpler powertrains than conventional vehicles.
But we've never had hard numbers for you.
Now Ford Motor Co., which is about to launch its first passenger EV - a battery electric version of the 2012 Focus - has come up with some, obtained by comparing scheduled maintenance (or lack of it) over a 10-year, 150,000 lifetime for the Focus EV with that for the internal combustion model.
Ford marketing material (click on art to enlarge) shows how company computes Focus EV's estimated maintenance savings.
It's a bit basic and self-serving, we know, but except for a handful of homemade conversions and the three-year experience of Tesla Roadster owners, there's no hard data on EV maintenance yet because there have not been enough on the road to pile up the needed info.
(We're scheduled to take delivery of our personal Nissan Leaf EV in April and will be sharing our data over the three-year lease period, but those are stories yet to come.)
No Battery Cost Info
One thing Ford doesn't mention is the elephant in the garage with every EV - what it would cost to replace the lithium-ion batteries if an owner wanted to keep the car longer than the expected 10-year lifetime of its battery pack.
Right now, the cost of a Focus-sized 23 kilowatt-hour battery pack is estimated at around $10,000-$12,000 (citing competitive reasons, automakers won't release actual costs).That's expected to come down considerably over the next decade, but still is a lot more than the approximately $2,500 it would cost to buy a replacement engine for a conventional Focus.
The future price of batteries will have a lot to do with electric vehicle resale values.
Leaving the battery-cost issue aside, Ford's tally shows that a Focus EV owner who keeps the car for the full 10 years could expect to save - in today's dollars - at least $1,170.95.
We figure it would actually be considerably more. Ford's figures don't include further savings of hundreds of dollars that we'd expect an EV owner to realize from needing fewer brake jobs - regenerative braking can greatly extend the life of brake pads and rotors - and from avoiding periodic replacement of radiator hoses and worn mufflers; EVs don't use those things.
Adding it Up
The way Ford breaks down its estimate, the biggest savings come because the Focus EV doesn't need oil changes while the conventional model would need 15 of them over a 10-year, 150,000-mile lifetime.
At $29.95 at a Ford Quick Lane service center for five quarts of oil and a new filter, the automaker says, that's a total savings of $449.25.
It also saves 75 quarts of oil and 15 filters that would have to be disposed of, as well as almost a full working day - 7.5 hours - spent waiting for the oil changes at an estimated 30 minutes each.
Ford also says that Focus EV owners would not need:
- Five air filters, at $24,95 each, a total of $124.75;
- Two cooling system flushes at $109 apiece, a total of $218;
- A $179 transmission service;
- One drive belt replacement at $130;
- One new set of spark plugs, at $69.95.
Regular maintenance for the electric Focus, and most other battery-electric vehicles, consists of little more than changing windshield wiper, checking ire pressure and keeping the window washer fluid topped up. Like a conventional Focus, the EV version also will need new tires on occasion, and could need a new set of shocks during its lifetime.