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Electric Car or Petrol Car
Oct 6, 2023

What Should You Buy Next: Electric Car or Petrol Car?

If you are planning to buy a car, then you may be wondering which type of car to go for. With the entry of electric vehicles (EVs) on the scene, there is a lot more variety. EVs have been gaining popularity due to their eco-friendliness and cost-effectiveness. Insurance companies have been coming up with specialised electric car insurance policies as well. While EVs indicate innovation and a sustainable way of travelling, conventional petrol cars are familiar and a safer option for many people. If you are confused as to what you should buy next, an electric car or a petrol one, we are here to guide you. We compare the ownership costs and other features of electric cars vs petrol cars to help you decide the ideal option.

Difference between Electric Cars & Petrol Cars

An electric car runs on electrical energy stored in the rechargeable battery of the vehicle. The energy stored in it is transmitted to the electric motor which is further transmitted into mechanical energy. This, in turn, helps the wheels to move forward. On the other hand, a petrol car has a spark-ignited internal combustion engine which burns the fuel (petrol) to drive the car forward. The table below simplifies some major differences between an electric car vs petrol car in India:  
Parameters  Electric cars  Petrol cars
Fuel Electric energy Petrol
Powered by An electric motor An internal combustion engine
Buying costs Tends to be higher Depends on the car; comparatively lower than EVs
Fuel/energy costs Lower Higher
Maintenance costs Lower Higher
Co2 emissions (from the car) Nil Higher

Comparing Ownership Costs: Electric Cars Vs Petrol Cars 

Now that you have a basic understanding of the difference between the two types of cars, let’s have a slightly detailed comparison of their ownership costs. This can help you determine the drawbacks and benefits of buying electric cars and petrol cars in India. Let’s use the example of Tata Nexon, which is available as an EV and as a petrol car as well. Let’s assume each type of car is to be driven for 10,000 km in a year

- Ownership costs of an electric car

To calculate the ownership costs of the Tata Nexon EV Max for a year, we will have to consider the average on-road price, electric car insurance costs, fuel price, driving range, and maintenance costs. On-road price of the car: Rs 16.5 lakhs Car insurance costs: Rs 70,000 (often included in the on-road price) Driving range: 453 km (per charge) Maintenance costs: Rs 4000 (since EVs require lower maintenance costs). To calculate the fuel price, let’s look at the following: The Tata Nexon EV takes up (approx.) 30 units of electricity for a single charge. Let’s assume the cost of one unit is Rs 7. To cover 10,000 km, the number of units taken would be 662 (10,000 x 30 / 453). Thus, the fuel price would be Rs 4634 [662 (total units per year) x 7 (price per unit)]. Let’s summarise the above through a table:
Particulars  Costs
Fuel costs Rs 4,634
Maintenance costs Rs 4,000
Total costs  Rs 8,634
  Since the insurance cost of an EV policy in India is often included in the on-road price, we are not including the same in the above table. The total costs would be approximately Rs 8,634 in addition to the on-road price (Rs 16.5 lakhs) of the car for a year.

- Ownership costs of a petrol car 

To calculate the ownership costs of the Tata Nexon XM variant, which is a petrol car, let’s look at some similar parameters. On-road price: Rs 8.9 lakhs Car insurance costs: Rs 42,000 Fuel efficiency: 17kmpl For calculating the fuel price, let’s assume the average price of petrol to be Rs 100 per litre. The fuel consumed by the car in a year would be 590 litres (10,000 x17), which would cost Rs 59,000 (590 x 10,000). Since the Tata Nexon XM is an SUV, the service and maintenance costs for it can be estimated at Rs 8000 for a year. Here is the above info in a tabular form:  
Particulars  Costs
Fuel costs Rs 59,000
Maintenance costs Rs 8,000
Total costs Rs 67,000
  The total costs for the year can reach Rs 67,000. Thus, while EVs may require lesser ownership costs per year, their on-road price tends to be high. On the other hand, petrol cars tend to be relatively affordable but have higher ownership costs. Each one has its pros and cons. If you have a petrol car and wish to convert it to an electric car, you can even look up the applicability and the price of a petrol to electric car conversion kit. Such a resource may help you lower your budget in case you wish to convert your car.   *Standard T&C apply Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. For more details on benefits, exclusions, limitations, terms, and conditions, please read the sales brochure/policy wording carefully before concluding a sale.

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