Factsheet compares total cost analyses of different types of drives.

In a study, the Fraunhofer ISI Institute calculated and compared the costs incurred by the purchase and use of cars with various types of drive systems (battery-electric cars, plug-in hybrids, cars with fuel cell drives, diesel and petrol combustion engines) from different segments (mid-size, SUV, compact class and small cars).

The total cost analysis (TCO = Total Cost of Ownership) takes various influencing factors into account – like acquisition costs, subsidies and fluctuating electricity and fuel prices – and provides a basis for decision-making on purchases in both the private as well as the commercial sectors.

The ‘TCO factsheet’ summarizes these results. It answers the most important questions about buying a new car:

  • At what holding period is the purchase of a battery-electric car worthwhile compared to a combustion engine car? What role does the size of the car play?
  • Do high electricity prices make purely electric cars and plug-in hybrids uneconomical?
  • How does the decreased and soon expired environmental bonus for BEVs and FCEVs impact the TCO in different vehicle segments?
  • How does the use of private or commercial charging infrastructure or even the use of own electricity generation facilities (and therefore different electricity price levels) affect the economic viability of an EV?


The results at a glance

In some cases, the analysis shows clear differences between the vehicle segments. While for more expensive mid-size cars and SUVs, cost parity between purely battery-electric cars and combustion engines is already achieved after a three-year holding period, in the compact class and above all, for small cars, this period was significantly longer. This shows that support provided by the environmental bonus and the innovation premium is still important, especially in the lower vehicle segments, at least until vehicle prices converge substantially.

The type of charging has a noticeable influence on potential cost advantages of e-cars compared to combustion engines. However, it also shows that for example in the mid-size class, battery-electric cars are more economical than diesel and petrol cars, even without private charging facilities. On the other hand, high prices for electricity or fossil fuels have less of an impact than expected over the longer term.

Download “Factsheet TCO” (PDF, in German)