Electric cars are more expensive to buy. But over time it pays off. Combustion engines, on the other hand, can be got hold of cheaply, but in the end buyers pay more. The calculation is by no means always that simple, as a recent comparison of the total costs of e-cars and combustion engines reveals.

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Who makes the better deal, e-car drivers or those who swear by combustion engines? With rising electricity prices, the long-term advantage in terms of the cost of the drive, which e-car fans have been invoking for years, is shrinking. On the other hand, petrol and diesel prices have soared to levels that few could have imagined a year ago. So who is ahead: E-car, petrol or diesel?

E-car, petrol or diesel: That’s how much they really cost – according to ADAC

The ADAC wants to answer this question in an exclusive study of the total costs for our colleagues from t-online. But one thing first: There is no clear winner. For better comparability, similar vehicles were compared in five categories. The ADAC experts used the basic price and costs for typical extras, factored in the loss in value, fixed monthly costs, operating costs, a flat rate for general expenses, such as the main inspection, and for car care.

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There is also a one-time fee of 500 euros for the transfer or delivery of the vehicles. The data is based on ADAC empirical values. For the gas prices, the experts have “Current” prices from September 8, 2022 estimated: 2.16 euros for a liter of diesel, 2.06 euros for petrol and an average price of 44 cents per kWh for charging current for e-cars. The changed funding conditions for e-cars were also taken into account.

Under these conditions, there are five categories each over five years with 15,000 kilometers driven per year the following total costs per km:

  • SUV: The Audi Q5 and Q4 e-tron were compared. Of the Electric SUVs are the cheapest at 74.9 cents per kilometer. 90.1 cents per km in diesel, 93.8 cents in petrol. Even without any funding, the Stromer clearly wins with 82.1 cents.
  • Compact SUV: In the popular class, two models from the Hyundai concern were envisaged. The Kona from Hyundai convinces as an electric car thanks to the subsidy with 49.3 cents per km. The diesel runs for 51.3 cents, the petrol hybrid for 52.3 cents per km. If the subsidy decreases from 2023, the km in the Kona e will already cost 51.7 cents. All without the environmental bonus, the e-car is lagging behind at 58.8 cents.
    At the SUV Kia Niro gets him overall victory for the plug-in hybrid. With the current subsidy, one km costs 51.2 cents, while an e-car costs 52.6 cents. From 2023, after the end of the hybrid subsidy, the e-car will be in front. If the subsidy ends here too, the hybrid wins again with 54.8 cents to 57.2 cents.
  • middle class: This is where Tesla’s Model 3 and the BMW 3 Series compete. Combustion engines don’t stand a chance against e-cars here. Each km currently costs 69 cents in the Model 3, while BMW drivers in the petrol 330i have to pay 86.7 cents. The diesel comes to 91 cents. Even without funding, the Model 3 is still significantly more affordable at 76.1 cents.
  • compact car: The ADAC has made an internal VW comparison here. Of the As an e-car, the ID.3 achieves the lowest kilometer costs at 49.7 cents. Golf diesel (65.5 cents) and petrol (66.6 cents) can’t keep up. Even without funding, the e-car at VW is still the cheapest choice at 59 cents.
  • small car: Of the The Opel Corsa e, on the other hand, only wins the comparison thanks to the environmental bonus. The total cost per km is currently 48.2 cents. Without any funding, however, they rise to 58 cents, which is significantly higher than diesel at 51.2 cents or petrol at 53.3 cents (source: t-online).

Stromer are not always cheaper in the long run

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Electric cars are therefore often the cheaper alternative to combustion engines, but not always. What is striking: in the long run, older electric vehicles in particular cannot undercut the costs of combustion engines, while newer models perform better. In addition, cheap e-cars without an environmental bonus are in a bind. The much lower purchase price has a stronger effect on the overall costs than with higher-priced models.

According to the ADAC, correctly presenting the actual charging costs for e-cars is also a challenge. This is not only due to the currently volatile electricity market. Above all, the large number of payment, charging and pricing alternatives ensures a wide range. Owners of a photovoltaic system can charge their e-car at home practically for free, while the kWh at the public fast charger means considerable additional costs compared to household electricity or public AC charging.