May 18, 2022


Matchless Automotive

Dear Drive… I heard that owning an electric vehicle is cheaper and easier to run. Is this true?

Dear Drive… Where we answer reader, viewer and listener questions. Something on your mind? Call in to the radio show or email us at [email protected]

Dear Drive… I heard that owning an electric vehicle is cheaper and easier to run. Is this true?

It’s a good question as we talk a lot about how much cleaner and easier an electric car is to own than a petrol one. There are no greasy pumps and no oily mess, which all sounds impressive, but what does this mean in reality?

To show you the difference, we set out to a Mini Garage service centre with two cars – a regular Mini Cooper S 3-door hatch with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and a Mini Electric 3-door hatch with a 32.6kWh battery and single electric motor.

We then watched on as a technician serviced both of these cars. Here’s what a standard annual service entails from both the petrol and electric Mini 3-door hatch.

Mini Cooper S 3-door hatch

The first step of the process is to send the car up on a halfway hoist.

Brake pads and brake discs are checked, as is the tyre health, which includes the tyre pressure where a reading is taken, tread depth is recorded and the tyre is thoroughly inspected.

The engine oil and filter are then changed, with a total 5.25 litres added. At this stage of the service, the brake fluid is also changed. 

The car undergoes an underbody examination to ensure nothing is damaged or loose, then once it’s back on the ground, it receives a tyre rotation. 

The spark plugs are then replaced – a necessity every four years or 60,000km depending on the car. Another element that gets replaced is the cabin air filter (also required every four years).

The final step is a wheel rotation before the car is plugged into a diagnostic computer to ensure there are no errors and that the service has been recorded on the car. This will ensure that an update is given to the owner when the next service is due.

All cars leave the Mini Garage service centre washed before being returned to their owners.

Cost: $1640 for five years or 80,000km

Mini Electric 3-door hatch

Like the petrol variant, the beginning of the servicing process is the same, in that the car is sent up on a halfway hoist. Brake pads, discs and tyres are examined; however, obviously, there’s no oil filter to replace.

Both cars undergo an underbody examination to ensure nothing is damaged or loose. Once the car is back on the ground, it undergoes its tyre rotation. Just a single filter and brake fluid are disposed of from the EV.

Once all the main tasks have been completed, just like the petrol Mini, the car is connected to the diagnostic computer to check for any errors, record the service, and log its next one.

Part of the electric Mini service includes a charge of the battery to at least 80 per cent before it leaves the garage.

*Note: In a normal service, the electric cover stays on unless there is an actual fault.

Cost: $940 for four years or $1280 for six years

Looking at servicing costs, the EV is the cheaper of the two.

It’s the cleaner of the two as well – using our ‘dirty-glove-o-meter’ there is a stark difference between the service on the petrol car compared to the electric one.

The petrol Mini needed a few more items and made more mess, in terms of gloves and disposable items.

It’s worth remembering, though, that they are both cars and that even being electric means brakes, tyres and suspension elements need to be inspected and replaced at regular intervals.

If you have any questions about electric cars, ownership or servicing, hit us up in the comments below.

Emma has been on our television screens for over a decade. Most of her time in the industry has been spent at racetracks reporting at major motorsport events in Australia – from TCR and Superbikes to Porsche Sprint Challenge and Supercars. Emma has also hosted various MotoGP and F1 events interviewing the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Jack Miller. Having previously presented on an automotive show, she made her move to the Drive family in 2020.
Fiercely proud of her Italian heritage, Emma is a coffee loving, stylish-black wearing resident of Melbourne.

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