The Real Cost: Electric Cars vs. Petrol Cars

Annette Anthony
Last updated May 25, 2022

There may be hidden costs on every dollar you spend. The Real Cost, a SingSaver Series, uncovers all the unexpected expenses you’re incurring.


When it comes to picking a ride, the No.1 choice you need to make is whether an electric or petrol car works best. In this week’s The Real Cost, we show you the breakdown of owning both cars here in Singapore.

The recent Budget 2022 revealed plans to add more Electronic Vehicle (EV) charging points. And rightly so, as the number of EVs have doubled here from 1,217 cars in 2020 to 2,942 in 2021).

More  people are starting to see EVs as a viable transport mode for both the environment and wallet. Petrol prices are, after all, soaring as we speak. 

Yet, the true costs involved in owning these vehicles may come as a surprise. What sort of maintenance fees would you have to pay? And is there a significant difference between the cost of insurance, Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and taxes for electrical and petrol cars?

Here, we delve into everything you need to know about owning electric cars versus petrol cars in Singapore. We’re taking two Category A cars for this toe-to-toe comparison: Tesla, the top selling EV in Singapore last year, and the comfy Kia Cerato.

The purchase price

There’s an evident gap between the purchase price for a Tesla and a Kia Cerato, despite both being Category A cars. This doesn’t include road tax and EV car incentives, which we will jump to next.

Source: onemotoring.lta.gv.sg (as of April 2022)

Incentives and taxes

EV purchasers get two types of incentives — the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (S$25,000) and the Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive or EEAI (S$20,000). The combined value of S$45,000 is definitely a pull factor, as you’re looking at a sweet S$45,000 off your total car purchase price!

When it comes to the road tax though, Tesla’s comes close to four times more than Kia Cerato’s. 

Source: lta.gov.sg

Car loans

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) sets the requirements for motor vehicle loans here. These are calculated based on the OMV of the vehicle:

Calculated using UOB Hire Purchase Car Loan

LTV refers to the sum of loan you can apply for, and it is shown as a percentage of the car’s purchase price, inclusive of COE and relevant taxes.

You can compare the available car loans, rates and other details using our handy loan calculator below.

Electric vs petrol consumption

Now comes the most pertinent point for day-to-day use of the car: energy consumption.  At the moment, petrol prices here range from S$3.09 per litre for 92-Octane in a SPC petrol station to S$3.90 per litre for Shell Premium V-Power. (Prices are correct as of 12 May 2022.)

A full tank of petrol for Honda Jazz (50L) would cost you S$154.50–S$195

When you compare this to the cost of charging an EV vehicle, the latter definitely wins. Take Shell Greenlots, for example. Charge your EV there, and it’d cost you S$0.55 per kWh at the AC: IEC Type 2 43kW and DC CCS Combo Type 2 50kW charging points. You can read more about the available spots to charge electric vehicles and their pricing here.

You’ll also need to wait for the battery to charge, and this is dependent on the type of battery your EV is powered on. Petrol pumps win in terms of convenience, especially when you’re running late for an appointment and can’t afford the luxury of hanging out at a bistro to charge your EV.

The battle here seems to be cost vs time, and the added fact that there aren’t many EV charging points in Singapore yet.

Car insurance

You can easily get a car insurance quote online for petrol cars. All you need to do is use a comparison tool, and you’d be able to see the different car insurances available to find what suits you best.

For instance, an FWD Classic Plan for car insurance could range from S$750 to S$2,500, inclusive of medical expenses and personal accident coverages.

As for EVs, you will need to submit an enquiry, complete with your car’s make and model, and from there, it’d take a few days to get a quote. The quote you get is dependent on your driving experience, gender, the car make and model, and other details.

It could cost you between S$900 to S$4,000 to insure a Tesla. Why the wider range? This depends on the EV coverage you opt for — fire and theft, third-party coverage, comprehensive coverage, etc.

Maintenance, servicing, spare parts

For wear and tear, you’re looking at these costs for both types of cars.

Other things to budget for when owning a car

There are other things you would need to pay from time to time when owning a car in Singapore, and these include:

In-Vehicle Unit (IU)

This is an item that you need to install before you start driving around, as it lets you pay your parking fees and ERP tolls with ease. The device costs S$155.80, inclusive of GST. The latest dual-mode IU accepts payment from a range of cards, including NETS CashCard, NETS FlashPay, credit cards and CEPAS-compliant cards. Just ensure that you have sufficient balance in your card before you insert it into the IU, or you risk getting fined All IU devices come with a five-year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Driving mistakes

When you drive your car, you need to ensure that you’re following the driver’s guidelines. Going against the grain by illegal parking, speeding, not signalling before you turn (and more) will cost you. How much? Based on the severity of your actions, you’re looking at S$100 – S$400

Car deposit 

At the moment, car loans cover up to 70% of your car’s price. This means that you’d need to pay for the remaining 30% on your own. Taking the Kia Cerato, that’ll set you back by about S$37,200. For the Tesla, 30% comes to around S$61,633.

Vehicle Registration Number (VRN)

When you purchase a new car, you have the option of either accepting the VRN that the LTA assigns to you automatically for free, or you bid for a number you like for S$1,000. There is an additional non-refundable service fee of S$10.70. Check beforehand if the VRN number you want is available, and then go ahead and place your bid. Bids cannot be amended or withdrawn.

You could opt for a personal loan to finance these extra costs. Check out the comparison table for the best rates and promos in town.

The stand-out details: Electric and petrol cars

Now that we understand the real cost details, let’s understand the differences between electric cars and petrol cars.

Electric cars

We all know that electric cars are the future. Most governments are pushing for EVs, and our recent Budget aims to issue S$35 billion in green bonds by 2030. Part of these funds will be allocated for more EV charging points closer to residences. 

The reason for this move? To push the shift of cars owned in Singapore from petrol-based to electricity-based ones. EVs, after all, emit fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants when compared to their predecessors, which fits right into Singapore’s goal of a carbon-lite future. EVs technically emit no carbon dioxide, thus reducing air pollution in general (a change pedestrians and cyclists alike will welcome).

However, making an electric vehicle generates a lot of emissions — in fact, even more than what is emitted in the process of creating a petrol car, because of the manufacturing of lithium batteries used to run EVs. In time, we can expect this production process to become more environmentally friendly.

Also, as stated in the Tesla Model 3’s owner manual, you can preserve the high-voltage battery by leaving your vehicle plugged in when it’s not in use. Even if you’re not intending to use it for a few weeks or so. 

The battery performs best when it’s charged regularly. You should never leave it to fully discharge, as it can cause damage to the vehicle’s components.

Petrol cars 

Comparing the price tags of the two vehicles, petrol cars definitely win over EVs. They can also run for a longer period, simply because there’s a petrol station at every other corner in Singapore compared to EV charging points. 

However, Singapore aims to have 100% cleaner energy vehicles by 2040, so there is a definitive move towards more environmentally friendly vehicles in our ongoing fight against climate change.

What’ll be your pick?


Read these next:

10 Best Car Insurance Plans in Singapore (May 2022)
Why Cars in Singapore Have Been Getting More Expensive (and Some Car Loans to Consider)
New Year, New Car: 7 Cheapest New Cars Under S$100,000 You Can Buy in Singapore 2022
How To Calculate A Car Loan Payment In Singapore
Driving to Malaysia in 2022: The Ultimate One-Stop Guide

Annette Anthony May 25, 2022 89602