Hertz is ditching 20,000 electric cars, citing expensive repairs. Here's how much it can cost to service an EV.

Manager using digital tablet while talking to mechanics in auto repair shop
Tesla advertises its cars as "eliminating the need for service" but there are some nuances in repairing and maintaining an EV.skynesher/Getty Images

Taking your vehicle to the shop doesn't look the same if it's electric.

That's what Hertz learned the hard way over the past year, citing a higher cost of repair and service as a factor in its decision to sell 20,000 electric cars, representing about a third of its EV fleet.

Electric vehicles represent a small but quickly growing part of the US vehicle market. EVs accounted for about 9.8% of sales in December. And as they continue to gain traction, buyers have all sorts of questions, like what it's like to drive and charge one. They also wonder what it means to service and maintain these vehicles — and how much that will cost them.


EVs are different from gas-powered vehicles for a lot of reasons, not just for their lack of engines. They're often referred to as computers on wheels.

They don't need oil changes. They don't have spark plugs and generally have fewer moving parts. Tesla advertises its vehicles as "eliminating the need for service."

EVs require less service — but repairs could be costly

A lot of the parts of an EV are similar to those in a gas-powered car, like the suspension, brakes, and body. EV drivers must replace the wipers and wiper fluid, like in any gas-powered car, and rotate the tires. Where EVs differ most are the propulsion elements — and while EVs are generally long-lasting vehicles, eventually certain components may wear out or need repair.

Electric cars "have a tendency to have a very long life in terms of vehicle miles traveled — maybe several hundreds of thousands of miles versus one hundred thousand miles," Bill Newman, head of auto at SAP North America, told Insider.

"The frequency of repairs may go down," he said. "But the costs for repair will go up."

A Kelley Blue Book assessment of the total cost to own an EV versus an internal-combustion engine vehicle estimated EV maintenance costs of $4,246 on average over five years of ownership, lower than the $4,583 estimate for gas-powered cars.

But it estimated EVs have slightly higher repair costs — about $1,712 on average — compared to $1,695 average repair costs for gas-powered vehicles.

"EVs don't require as much maintenance — meaning fluids and filters — but EVs are going to require high-ticket repairs," Quin Garcia, managing director at VC firm AutoTech Ventures, said.

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.
EV tires are different than those for a gas-powered vehicle.Kia

What else EV-buyers can expect

EV tires are different from those on gas-powered vehicles. In general, EV tires must be able to handle heavy loads (largely due to the battery), faster initial acceleration, and even noise reduction. The weight and near-instant torque of EVs means higher tire wear, which could mean they need to be replaced more often.

There doesn't seem to be a clear consensus on how EV batteries age and whether they'll need replacing. It's not likely they will for their first owner, but once an EV makes its way to the used market, variables like the battery's health and state of charge will be important to determine whether a second or third owner can expect a hefty replacement cost. This may shift as battery tech improves and production scales.

On the plus side, you might not have to replace your brakes on an EV, as wear is reduced with regenerative braking.

What it means for car dealers

Dealers have been assessing just how much of an impact that potentially less frequent vehicle service will have on their bottom lines. After-sales service is a huge part of their business.

"We all think that after-sales service is going to be a profit center in the future," Garcia said. "How do dealers navigate that thin line between focusing on after-sales, but also navigating EVs not requiring as much after-sales service?"

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