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Comparing total cost of ownership of Renault Zoe EV vs Honda Jazz ICE

The Renault Zoe is a great little electric car, with solid range and sleek design and it’s one of the few EVs you can buy in Australia! The downside however is price. Starting at $51,990 for what is a small 5 door hatch, it’s an expensive purchase. Despite the fact an EV is cheaper to run than an ICE car, the extra cost over a nice Toyota Yaris or Honda Jazz is just too severe to make financial sense.

I was very surprised to see Paul Williams, owner of a medical supplies company based near Brisbane, talking to thedriven.io about how he reckons his Renault Zoe saves him money over an ICE vehicle. According to Paul, he’s “worked out a 5 year pay back time-frame based on the average weekly distances I travel and money saved on fuel costs”, “plus there’s the lower servicing costs, lower wear on tyres and brakes”. Let’s do some math to see if the Zoe is a money saver:

The Zoe’s purchase price is what stings first. The Zoe Intens has an RRP of $54,540. But going by Carsales, you can probably get one for $50k flat with under 2,000km on the clock. A brand new Honda Jazz VTi-S will set you back $23,500. The Zoe has to somehow claw back $26,500 in running costs over 5 years.

Rego, in Victoria at least, is a little cheaper if you have an EV. 4 years of registration on the Zoe works out to $2399 compared to $2799 with the Jazz (the 1st year is included in the purchase price) . Modest saving, but it’s something.

Insurance for the Zoe is more expensive than the Jazz simply due to the fact it’s a much more expensive car. The cheapest quote I could find for comprehensive insurance was from Bingle, who said I’d be up for $762/yr with the Zoe vs $545/yr for the Jazz. Over 5 years that’s $3,810 vs. $2,725.

Now the big saving – fuel. I haven’t paid under $1.60 for 95RON fuel in VIC for ages and I pay 18c/kWh for electricity, so I’m using $1.60/L and 18c/kWh as my reference pricing. The Jazz gets 5.8L/100km on the urban cycle, which at 300km/week over 5 years (78,000km), is $7,238.40. The Zoe uses 150W of energy to move 1km. 75,000km is 11,250kWh, which at 18c will set you back $2,106.00. A $5,132.40 saving in favour of the Zoe.

Maintenance is another area where EVs are cheaper than ICE. The cost to service the Jazz over 5 years/75,000km at a Honda dealer is $2194. Renault Australia don’t have their service costs online, just an approximate $231 service (change cabin filter, do diagnostics and safety check once a year, replace battery coolant & brake fluid every 2nd year). Over 5 years that works out to $1,155 to “service” the Zoe.

To make things fair, we should also purchase carbon offsets. Tango (my electricity retailer) doesn’t have any green power or renewable options, so using info from the wonderful Electricity Map that shows that for every kWh of energy created in VIC, 700g of CO2 is spewed into the air, we can work out that the Zoe will emit 105g of CO2 per km it drives when charged off the dirty VIC power grid. According to the Green Vehicle Guide, the Jazz will emit 135g of CO2 per km it drives. At 75,000km, that’s 10.2 tonnes of CO2 for the Jazz vs. 7.875t for the Zoe. Offsetmyemissions.com charges $19.80 per tonne of CO2 offsets – $163.71 for the Zoe vs. $208.49 for the Jazz.

Here’s a summary of the total cost of ownership, driving 300km/wk for 5 years:

HONDA JAZZ VTI-S MY19

  • Purchase Price (driveaway, no finance) – $23,500
  • Rego (VIC, 3340) – $2,799.60
  • Insurance (comprehensive, VIC) – $2,725
  • Fuel (5.8L/100km, 95RON, $1.60/L) – $7,238.40
  • Servicing (done at Honda dealer) – $2194
  • CO2 offset (10 tonnes of CO2) – $208.49
  • TOTAL: $38,418.60

    RENAULT ZOE INTENS MY19

  • Purchase Price (driveaway, no finance) – $50,000
  • Rego (VIC, 3340) – $2399.60
  • Insurance (comprehensive, VIC) – $3810
  • Electricity (18c/kWh) – $2,106.00
  • Servicing (done at Renault dealer) – $1155
  • Carbon offset (7.9t) – $163.71
  • TOTAL: $59,389.60

    There’s a whopping $20,968.81 difference in favour of the Jazz. I don’t know what kind accounting magic Paul Williams is pulling, but I don’t see how the overpriced Renault Zoe will save money, let alone break even. But let’s do some hypotheticals to see if the Zoe could somehow manage to be a money saver over an ICE car.

    Maybe Paul doesn’t pay for electricity or is using solar energy to charge his car 100% of the time. By removing the cost of electricity & offsetting the carbon, that reduces the Zoe’s TCO to $57,364.60 – still leaving the Jazz with an $18,699.11 advantage.

    How about servicing? There’s bugger all that needs to be done on an EV, so you could realistically get away without the car ever visiting the dealer in 5 years, saving $1155, reducing the gap between the Zoe and Jazz to $17,544.11. Still a massive gap.

    The only way I could fiddle the numbers to make driving the Zoe worthwhile is getting free electricity, not bothering to service the thing and driving it 42,700km/year. With that much driving, over 5 years, you’d save $26.22 over paying for fuel & servicing for Jazz.

    So Paul, if you’re reading, I’d love to see how you worked out that the Zoe will save you money over 5 years! Maybe there’s some sort of finance/depreciation thing going on where it’s assumed the Zoe will retain it’s value more than the Jazz?

    Anthony also produces The Sizzle - a daily email newsletter covering all aspects of technology with an Australian point of view.

    Notable Replies

    1. keith says:

      Your comparison model is great, pretty comprehensive and shows that pricing is the key area of focus to make EVs more attractive on cost basis, ignoring any other benefits. And thus… the need for incentives in the short term if EV uptake in Australia is ever going to get seriously going.

    2. That’s pretty much it. If we want EVs to be more than a luxury car for greenies, the prices need to come down rapidly. It’s a shame Renault didn’t introduce their battery rental scheme in Australia (which has been very popular in the UK). It would have lowered the barrier to entry significantly.

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