Hidden costs of owning and maintaining electric cars

Electric cars continue to make inroads into Kenya‘s transport sector as the country moves towards safe energy and reducing emissions.

The government intends for 5 percent of all registered vehicles in Kenya to be electric by 2025.

Finland’s electric taxi service Nopea Ride has dominated the Kenyan market by tripling its fleet. According to experts, their cars have helped reduce emissions in Nairobi, thereby reducing health complications caused by pollution.

BasiGo is scheduled to launch the electric bus on the Kenyan market from March 2022

BasiGo

Other startups that have conquered the Kenyan market include BasiGo, Kiri and Opibus, with many more joining the bandwagon.

But there are hidden costs that have contributed to the slow adoption of electric vehicles. These costs play a crucial role in decision-making and influence a motorist’s choice of an electric car.

The initial cost of an electric car is higher compared to other fuel-powered cars. In Kenya, most buyers prefer used cars. Manufacturers’ data indicate that only a few people buy new cars from truck stops.

Although electric cars are an option, their prices are still higher compared to fuel-powered ones in Kenya. The average price for an electric car in Kenya is around Ksh 1.2 million.

loading equipment

The availability of charging equipment is also an important factor that a buyer should consider before purchasing an electric car. Most of these cars come with a Level 1 charger that plugs into any 110 household socket.

However, this would take weeks to fill up your car. Level 2 chargers are the preferred ones, but their cost is quite high. In Kenya, Level 2 Charger costs about 100,000 Ksh.

But to avoid this struggle, the country has a number of charging stations. Two Rivers Mall, Mombasa Road near JKIA, The Hub Karen and Viena Court near State House Road. The charging costs vary depending on the station.

Electric vehicle batteries are the most expensive parts of the car. The biggest challenge is that they wear out overtime, forcing owners to park them as buying a new one is extremely expensive. In most developed countries, they rent the batteries to the owners to reduce the cost of acquiring brand new batteries.

Hyundai is one car model that is considering leasing its batteries for electric cars to encourage purchasing ability.

maintenance and repair

Maintenance is also a factor to consider when buying an electric car. As much as they don’t need an oil change or engine air filter, they do need repairs from time to time to keep them in good mechanical condition.

Electric cars have a thermal management system that contains a coolant that needs to be replaced and flushed out periodically.

As expensive as maintaining the thermal management system is, electric cars have fewer systems that require regular maintenance.

Repair costs also determine whether you should buy an electric car. In Kenya you can just walk into any garage and have your petrol car repaired, but with electric cars the mechanics are limited and a select few have knowledge of the technology required.

Driver assistance systems, for example, and infotainment screens could result in enormous repair costs. Diagnostic systems and parts may only be available from certain dealers.

insurance

Insurance is another important factor to consider before buying an electric car. Compared to gas-powered cars, insurance costs for electric vehicles are higher.

Most insurers charge more because EVs are more expensive to repair. Why? Few stores have the equipment to handle high capacity batteries.

An electric car is charging

An electric car is charging

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resale value

Resale value is also a key factor for any electric car owner. Compared to their cousins, their resale value is low. According to research by Car World, a typical gasoline car loses around 39 percent in value after three years, while an electric car loses 52 percent in value.

In addition, most buyers are afraid of buying used electric cars because of their advanced technologies. Demand is therefore based on longevity, with Tesla being among the most trusted brands in the world.

To address some of the challenges, electric car manufacturers are working with various government firms to address the issues.

In March 2021, Kenya Power announced that it would set up a nationwide network of public charging points, thereby removing one of the hurdles to using electric cars in Kenya.

“As part of our implementation plan, we are developing appropriate infrastructure and building internal capacity so that we can support the uptake of EVs across the value chain,” said Bernard Ngugi, Managing Director of Kenya Power.

To encourage EV purchases, ABC Shopping Mall on Waiyaki Way, ChargeNet’s EV station, started offering free charging stations last year.

Similar stations at Kasarani and Ngong Racecourse are also set to be opened by ChargeNet.

About Sonia Martinez

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