EV Total Cost of Ownership

Soul badge with EV charger hatch

What Does an EV Actually Cost?

In last weekend’s Toronto Star, Jim Kenzie wrote a review of Kia Soul with its electrified sibling, Soul EV. Kia provided Mr. Kenzie with a top of the line gas powered 2020 Soul GT-Line Limited model, which sells for $29,545. In addition, Kia added the 2020 Soul EV in Limited trim, listing at $51,595 for Mr. Kenzie’s evaluation and comparison.

That’s a difference of $22,050. One heck of a premium to go fully electric. Ouch.

Which got me thinking.

Instead of the fully loaded EV Limited, what would happen if we took a step back, and looked instead at the EV Premium model? The EV Premium lists at $42,895. But let’s compare apples to apples. Instead of a loaded gas powered Soul GT-Line Limited at $29,295, let’s look at both the gas powered and EV models in Premium trim. We’ll also step up to the 2021 model year for both vehicles.

One thing to note: leave it to Kia to keep the price the same from 2020 to 2021 for the gas powered Soul EX Premium, while ADDING equipment (you can see the additional equipment list by comparing these two models at automobl.com/compare).

For brevity, we’ll refer to the gas powered Soul as an ICE (internal combustion engine) equipped vehicle.

Comparison: 2021 Kia Soul EX Premium versus 2021 Kia Soul EV Premium

First, let’s have a look at the features we’ve found on both vehicles.

Common Equipment

Common equipment list Soul vs Soul EV

In the high $20K range, the equipment list is quite comprehensive. Automatic emergency braking, automatic temperature control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, remote start, proximity key and full suite of passive safety features make sure Soul keeps you comfy and safe.

Feature Difference

Feature Difference Soul vs Soul EV

Soul EX Premium ICE handily wins the Automobl Value Comparison, mainly on price. You sacrifice a power moonroof, larger tires, dual zone air conditioning and lower profile tires to move to Soul EV. However, Soul EV has a few tricks up its sleeve with adaptive cruise control, an 8-way power driver’s seat and a sizeable advantage in torque.

On the surface, this is a slam dunk for Soul EX Premium ICE. But hear me out. Time for the rest of the story (with apologies to Paul Harvey).


Measurements Soul vs Soul EV

As you’d expect given the shared platform, many of these two kindred spirit’s numbers are the same. But let’s focus on one significant number, the lower annual fuel cost. Let’s say you keep your Soul EV for six years. That’s $1,586 x 6 = $9,516 that you’re not going to spend on fuel. Now the difference in the Automobl Value Advantage is $15,310 – $9,516 = $5,794. Still a big difference, isn’t it?

But is it?

EV total cost of ownership

What about the EV total cost of ownership? What about maintenance?

Let’s look at maintenance costs over those six years.

For Soul ICE, you’ll need to get the oil changed every three months at an average cost of about $60 each time. Four times per year, that’s $240. No oil changes needed on the Soul EV. Let’s lop another ($240 x 6) $1,440 off that difference. We’re now at $4,354.

Give Me a Break

Now, let’s look at brakes. Because Soul EV aggressively harvests energy from the braking system when you slow down, you slow the wear on the brake pads. Regeneration slows the car, not the brakes. You’ll only need to use the brakes when regeneration isn’t enough. When Toyota Prius was introduced in the early 2000s, dealers in Victoria, BC used to complain about Prius being exceptionally easy on brakes, so much so that they rarely had to replace the pads. They lost that service revenue. A full brake service on a car, including replacing brake pads varies, but let’s say you can get away with 36,000 kilometres between full brake services. Most people drive about 20,000 km per year, so in six years (120,000 km of driving), you’ll need to make at least three full brake service stops. In my experience, the cost for this runs about $800 to look after all four corners. With an EV, you’ll likely only need to get one full brake service in that time (your mileage may vary). Take another $1,600 off that bill: $4,354 – $1,600 = $2,754.

Major Service

Let’s take out another major maintenance item EVs simply don’t need.

When a dealer performs a major service, they will replace transmission fluid, engine coolant, air filter, spark plugs, inspect fuel lines and connections, inspect ignition wires, replace differential fluids and transfer case fluid. This will run about $500 each, one every 48,000 kilometres. Soul EV? Simply not needed.

Take another $1,000 off. Now we’re at $1,754.

Other Benefits

  • No exhaust system to service.
  • Only one moving part to an electric motor
  • You can fuel your car at home, especially important during these pandemic times.

One More Thing

Your decision comes to whether or not the $1,754 price premium is worth it when you consider the total cost of ownership. But there’s one more thing to consider: government rebates. Many jurisdictions have incentives for EV owners that can eliminate this price difference. In Canada, these include Federal and Provincial rebates depending on where you live. In the United States, these can include Federal tax credits and individual state rebates. But even without rebates, the Soul EV is very competitive against its gas powered sibling.

The Upshot

Cost is rarely the only issue when it comes to purchasing any vehicle. You need to consider the value that each vehicle delivers to meet your needs. You can look at the dollars, but they don’t tell the whole story. What do you get from the features on a vehicle? What are they worth to you? What is their value? Cost then takes on a very different meaning. Whether you’re measuring the EV total cost of ownership or comparing one gas powered vehicle to another, you need to ensure the vehicle you choose is going to deliver the value you expect.


No matter what  vehicle you’re shopping, we encourage you to use Automobl as a resource to help you find your next new car. Use the links below to help you write your own personal value story. A hearty “Welcome Aboard” to our latest subscribers.

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1 thought on “EV Total Cost of Ownership

  1. This is an excellent rebuttal to all those EV naysayers out there who simply look at the upfront cost of an electric vehicle but do not dig deeper into the wide variety of value comparisons.
    Personally, not having to ever go to a gas station again is the icing on the cake.

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