Understanding the cost disparity: repair costs for electric and internal combustion engine vehicles
May 22, 2024

Did you know, it costs an average of 25% more to repair an electric vehicle (EV) than a petrol or diesel vehicle (ICE)?

This imbalance varies significantly by make and model, meaning some EV drivers could end up paying significantly more than others when their vehicle needs repairing.

This means drivers often don’t know what to expect when transitioning to an all-electric vehicle – how will the cost of day-to-day repairs differ from what they’ve come to expect from their petrol or diesel vehicle?

Here, we explore the factors driving this striking disparity, by comparing two similar models from the same manufacturer: the combustion engine-driven Renault Clio, and the all-electric Renault Zoe..  These vehicles are comparable in size, style, and target audience, and the comparison between them highlights the very tangible, and often underreported cost implications of EVs, their complexities, and onboard technologies.  

What influences higher repair costs for electric vehicles?

Senior Engineer, Raymond McGarvey highlights key factors influencing EV repair costs and their ICE counterparts:

Raymond said: “The speed of acceleration, which is a feature of all electric vehicles on the market, can lead to increased margin for driver error. EVs have a higher probability of having a slightly increased speed when an incident does occur at point of impact – leading to marginally increased damage levels, which influences repair costs and total loss rates.

“EVs proportionally are also often fitted with more driver assistance technology as standard, and damage to these high-tech features also pushes up repair costs.

“Finally, many EV models are still relatively new to the road and parts availability in certain areas is limited, particularly for green or aftermarket parts, leading to higher repair costs overall.”

These factors differ significantly by make and model, and to illustrate this, we’ve completed a comprehensive comparison of claim outcomes for the Renault Clio and its EV counterpart, the Zoe.

Renault Clio vs. Zoe: Repair cost comparison

By combining Activate Group’s internal data with intelligence provided by Gecko Risk, the specialist EV insights platform, we’ve conducted in-depth analysis across thousands of Clio/Zoe repairs conducted between 2019 and 2023.

This analysis reveals that average repair costs for the Renault Zoe (£3,196) are 72% higher than the ICE-powered Clio (£1,861) over the five-year period – significantly higher than the average difference between EV and ICE repairs.

Replacement parts are a pivotal factor in this disparity in average repair costs, with Zoe parts averaging twice the cost of those for the Clio.

Raymond commented: “Labour and paint costs are higher for the Zoe than the Clio, however the cost of an average parts basket really stands out. On average, parts cost more than twice as much for the Zoe when compared to the Clio, and this remained the same across all vehicle age ranges.

“In comparison to the Clio, the Zoe is fitted with more driver assistance technology as standard – another common feature of EVs. In the Zoe, this expensive technology is close to the front of the vehicle, being a very compact vehicle compared to the Clio counterpart, and would certainly push up repair costs if damaged.

“Finally, while the Zoe was on sale for ten years, the total number on UK roads reached just under 30,000 before the model was discontinued. Compared to more than 400,000 Clios on UK roads, this relatively low number of vehicles limits parts availability, pushing up the cost of replacement parts.”

Both vehicles have experienced notable increases in average repair costs since 2019 in line with a general uplift in repair costs across the industry. However, the rise is more pronounced for the Zoe, with average repair expense up 50% from 2019 to 2023, compared to a 28% rise for the Clio during the same period.

A year-on-year comparison reveals that the difference between average repair costs for the Clio and Zoe peaked in 2021, when repairing a Zoe was more than twice as costly as repairing a Clio.

Since then, the differential has reduced, and in 2023 the average repair cost for a Zoe was 75% more than for a Clio. Not surprising, given the significant levels of investment in EV repair technology and training across the repair industry, however parts costs remain a key challenge for EV repairs.

Renault Clio vs. Zoe: – Total Loss (Write-off) Rate Comparison

When it comes to write off or total loss vehicles, the data reveals that a higher percentage of Clios are declared total losses overall (13% vs. 7%), driven by the prevalence of older, lower value vehicles on the road.
A closer examination of vehicles within the 0-5 year age bracket shows that the Renault Zoe is more than twice as likely as the Clio to be deemed a total loss, with 7% of Zoe incidents resulting in a write off, compared to 3% for Clios.

Ray continued: “In general, EVs are heavier with stronger acceleration, which can mean higher impact incidents and greater damage.

“In addition, the battery makes up a significant proportion of the vehicle’s value, making it more likely that a Zoe will be written off if the battery has been damaged in the incident.”

Conclusion – Renault Zoe EV vs Renault Clio Repair Costs

The data analysis conducted by Activate Group sheds light on the challenges and opportunities presented by the developing EV landscape.

In particular:

  • Key factors influencing EV repair costs include higher speeds at the time of impact, advanced driver assistance technology, and limited parts availability.
  • Repair costs differ significantly by make and model, as demonstrated by the stark difference between repair costs for the Renault Clio and Zoe.
  • Zoes under 5 years old are more likely to be written off than their ICE counterparts due to higher repair costs, and the significance of the battery in overall vehicle value.

As EVs continue to gain traction, understanding repair costs dynamics becomes increasingly important. For fleets, insurers and consumers seeking more sustainable transport solutions, data will play a pivotal role in empowering informed decision-making.

Article Contents