Thermal-electric match: economic advantage to the battery car

STUDY – Thanks to advantageous taxation and the competitiveness of the price per kilowatt, carbon-free vehicles have lower running costs than combustion engines. Only recharging still raises questions for companies.

Appearances can be deceiving. If the electric vehicle seems prohibitive at first glance, a more in-depth analysis shows the opposite. A think tank of the BNP Paribas group, the Arval Mobility Observatory publishes an annual study on the evolution of costs. These specialists embrace all of the budget lines necessary for the operation of a company vehicle: depreciation, financial costs, maintenance, tires, insurance, energy and tax and social charges. With all these parameters, the match between electric and thermal each time turns to the advantage of the first even if the latter displays much higher list prices.

In the city car segment, the electric Renault Twingo is sold for 22,100 euros, from which the 4,000 euro bonus must be withdrawn when its petrol counterpart is displayed at 14,300 euros. Taking into account the total cost of use and with a driving rule of 48 months and 80,000 kilometres, electric costs 18,104 euros compared to 23,332 for petrol, i.e. a difference of 5,228 euros to the benefit of the electric. Whatever the mileage, the electric version wins, despite a higher purchase price of 3,800 euros including bonus. Taxation works in favor of the carbon-free version, as does the cost of energy, the amount of which is almost half as much. The electric Twingo escapes annual taxes on passenger vehicles, new versions of the Company Vehicle Tax (TVS) and is not subject to non-deductible depreciation. The electric Twingo pays 1,343 euros in tax and social charges when gasoline must pay 3,543 euros, including 1,030 in annual taxes on passenger vehicles. And the greater the mileage, the greater the differential.

An advantageous tax

The think tank’s study extends to other segments of the automotive market with the same conclusion. Despite a higher price of 8,260 euros (bonus included), the electric Fiat 500 also comes out on top against the micro-hybrid version and this, at all the mileages studied with the exception of 60,000 kilometers. Here again, taxation leans in favor of the greenest version, as does the energy budget, the amount of which varies from 2,900 to 4,200 euros from 60,000 to 120,000 kilometres. The tax and social charges of the electric Fiat 500 amount to 1,853 euros against 3,267 for the micro-hybrid version.

The Peugeot 208 Allure is sold at a price of 30,700 euros (bonus included) in its electric version, 22,350 in its petrol version and 23,850 in diesel. From 60,000 to 120,000 kilometres, the connected version proves to be more economical when taking into account all the running costs. Same result for the Peugeot 2008, the Citroën C4, the Renault Mégane or the ID.3 confronted with Golf plug-in hybrids, petrol and diesel. For the Peugeot SUV and depending on the mileage, the cost of energy varies from 2,930 to 4,180 euros for electric, from 5,522 to 11,044 for gasoline and from 4,418 to 8,836 for diesel. The petrol version has fuel consumption of 5.9 l/100 km and the diesel 4.8 l/100 km.

For the Citroën C4, electric, petrol and diesel must pay 1,309, 9,110 and 9,632 euros in social security and tax charges respectively. Exemption from annual taxes on passenger vehicles does indeed play a decisive role.

A more difficult valuation on the used-vehicle market

If taxation and energy plead in favor of the electric, the depreciation of the vehicle remains the first expense item of a vehicle. Still according to the Arval Mobility Observatory, it represented 39.12% of the total cost of using a company vehicle in 2021, i.e. 15,481 euros over 48 months. This amount takes into account the list price with discount less the foreseeable resale value on the second-hand market at the end of the holding period.

For electric vehicles, the calculation of the residual value takes into account the ecological bonus of 4,000 euros. Displayed at 45,000 euros, a carbon-free vehicle will be estimated at 41,000 euros by funding bodies. The difference with the resale price on the second-hand market decreases, the residual value decreases and rents go up.

Another element to take into account, expensive to buy, technologies are poorly valued on the second-hand market. “The additional cost of electrical technologies reaches 8 to 10,000 euros on the price displayed in the catalog, explains Yoann Taitz, regional estimate and data manager for Autovista for France and Benelux. However, the higher this amount, the greater the depreciation will be and the lower the residual value will be. Here again, the depreciation runs counter to the economic competitiveness of electricity.

The environment also impacts residual values. The establishment of Low Emission Zones stimulates demand when the difficulties encountered for recharging act in the opposite direction. “On the other hand, recovering 80% of the autonomy in 15 to 20 minutes, as is the case with Porsche and the Korean manufacturers, raises the prices on the VO market”, specifies Yoann Taitz.

A difference of 20% on residual values

Faced with the shortage of electronic components, longer delivery times on the new market and rising fuel prices, second-hand electric vehicles are enjoying growing interest. “Since January, the residual values ​​of electric vehicles have increased sharply and continuously while remaining lower than those of thermal models, specifies Yoann Taitz. Over 36 months and 45,000 kilometers and with a comparable vehicle, the difference is 20%.

According to Autovista, on the criterion of total cost of use, electric is more attractive than thermal. Over 36 months, the automotive data specialist estimates the difference at 1,500 or 2,000 euros with diesel and 1,000 euros with gasoline.

Long-term rental company of the BMW group, Alphabet sees its orders for electric vehicles explode. With this technology, contract durations and mileage are shortened to 12,000 kilometers per year. At the head of 100,000 vehicles in France, Alphabet points out the economic advantages of electric. “The financial rents associated with services represent half of the TCO on average, calculates Julien Chabbal, director of sales and marketing. Maintenance and tires favor electric over thermal. But it is above all energy and tax incentives that tip the balance in favor of electricity.

Reduced maintenance

Another criterion of appreciation, an electric motor integrates fewer parts than a thermal block, the points of friction are fewer and its reliability is higher. Under these conditions, there are fewer breakdowns and maintenance requires fewer interventions. Another advantage, the electric implies a calmer driving which allows to preserve the brakes and the tires.

A specialist in fleet management on behalf of companies, Direct Fleet takes into account all costs and considers the energy item to be particularly differentiating. With a full tank of cheaper kilowatts, gasoline and diesel are disqualified and the difference widens when the use is more intensive. For Direct Fleet, internal combustion is more competitive at less than 1,000 kilometers per month, the costs balance out at 2,000 kilometers and electric takes over from 3,000 kilometers.

When battery life meets user needs, companies have no economic reason to reject electric. The only downside, but a major one, is the question of charging, which still dampens enthusiasm with a network of public terminals that is still too fragmented.


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