Should You Buy a Gas or Electric Car in Quebec?

Voitures Bolt EV et Mirage face à face, avec symboles électricité versus essence

Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular: over 100,000 new electric or hybrid vehicles were registered in 2023 in Quebec. This year, those interested in purchasing an electric vehicle will still benefit from maximum incentives from the government. But these will be reduced as of next year. Does it make sense to buy an electric car now, financially speaking? Do energy savings and incentives offset the higher purchase cost? To answer these questions, we compared the purchase of a Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle with a Mitsubishi Mirage, two low-cost cars, and assumed you would keep them for five years to drive 20,000 kilometers per year. According to our research, you would save 14% by opting for the small gasoline-powered car, representing a saving of over $4,000 over five years.

Car purchase price

Let’s be honest: the main obstacle to buying an electric vehicle is its price, which is higher than that of gasoline-powered cars. The Mirage is the cheapest car on the market today. In May 2024, I called Mitsubishi to get the exact price, which is $20,048 including fees (delivery, for example), but excluding taxes. The total with taxes would be $23,050.

In terms of electric cars, we chose the inexpensive Bolt, priced at $38,943. Added to this price are various fees and taxes, for a total of $47,794. In Quebec, the purchase price is subsidized by $5,000 from the federal government and $7,000 from the provincial government, bringing the actual cost to $35,794. There is also an incentive available to reduce the cost of purchasing a home charging station.

Of course, energy is not the only difference between the two cars. While the Bolt is rated at 200 hp, the Mirage is rated at just 78 hp. But the little gas-powered car might surprise you. While the Bolt’s rear trunk holds 470 liters, the Mirage holds 484 liters. It’s up to you to decide which features you’re looking for – and at a great price, of course!

Monthly payments versus car depreciation

Forget about the monthly payment you’ll have to make. The actual cost we calculated takes into account the resale value of the car after your five years of ownership. So even if you pay over $700 a month for a Bolt, you’ll get some of it back.

Electric car batteries are now more powerful than those of the first models. The Bolt has a range of around 400 km, for example. This means that the Bolt could still be worth something in five years’ time. But the Mirage could do even better! Small cars are becoming increasingly rare on the market; this one is likely to be in high demand. Indeed, on the phone, Mitsubishi confirmed that there were currently no more models available and that I would have to wait until the end of July if I wanted to buy one.

To assess the depreciation of the two vehicles and compare them, we used the AutoTrader website. We looked at the posted resale prices of the base Bolt and Mirage models. Since some models are offered by dealers and others by individuals, it’s not the exact amount you would get. So we also used the site’s tool to estimate the resale value to a dealer. We chose a figure in between the two methods’ results. Based on the 2019 Bolt and Mirage currently on resale, the real cost you can expect to pay (purchase price minus resale price) is estimated at $282 per month to drive electric, or just $111 for the small gas car!

Of course, you mustn’t forget interests, assuming you would finance the car for five years. At a rate of 5.49% posted on the Chevrolet website on May 1, your bill here is $87 a month for the Bolt electric, while the Mirage is less expensive. It costs only $51 per month, at a rate of 4.99%. In addition to these costs, there are other expenses associated with using the car.

Average cost per monthBolt electricMirage
Purchase cost – resale price$282$111
Energy, for 20,000 km per year$36$190
Charging station$3
Monthly total$570$499
Main monthly costs

The cost of energy

Propelling ourselves towards a greener future is one of the few expenses that benefits electric cars. To calculate the cost of gas and electricity, we assumed that the driver would drive 20,000 km per year according to the Natural Resources Canada standard. If your Bolt consumes just over 18 kWh per 100 km, while the Mirage uses 6.2 liters of gasoline for the same number of kilometers, the Mirage is more expensive to drive. The electricity rate was found on the Hydro-Québec website, at $0.11892 per kWh. At the time of our analysis, the average price of gasoline was 183.8 cents per liter. Hydro-Québec offers a quick calculation tool.

The monthly cost of gasoline for the Mirage is $189.93, compared with $36.27 for the electric car. The result is unequivocal: gas cars cost 5.24 times more. Electric cars take the pressure off your wallet! But this relief may be short-lived.

Paying more to insure an electric car

Gas cars cost less in insurance than their electric counterparts. There are several reasons why zero-emission vehicles cost more to insure. More expensive parts and fewer repair workers are among the main factors.

On May 1, 2024, I requested quotes for each vehicle. Intact quoted me $75.67 a month for the Mirage, while Desjardins offered to insure the Bolt for $114.17. Many insurers, including Intact, don’t offer online simulations for electric vehicles like the Bolt. These prices should be taken with a grain of salt, since drivers’ gender, age and history influence their premiums.

Car maintenance

With an electric car, there’s no need for oil changes. This is just one example of the difference in maintenance between the Mirage and the Bolt. For the purposes of comparison, we assume that the car, when new, does not break down during the five years of ownership. It comes with a three-year warranty (the Bolt’s battery even has an eight-year warranty).

The purchase of new tires and brakes once during the ownership period, tire changes twice a year depending on the season, and oil changes three times a year for the Mirage result in a cost of $70.83 per month for the gas vehicle and $48.33 for the electric. Note, however, that if you keep your electric car longer than the five years used to make our calculations, the result could change due to the more costly repairs of the advanced technologies used in this type of car.

In conclusion, it’s still worth opting for a gas car. Nevertheless, the difference is much smaller than the gap between advertised purchase prices might lead us to believe. In the end, you’ll pay just over $34,000 to own an electric Bolt for five years, while the Mirage will cost you just under $30,000.

Maude Gauthier is a journalist for Hardbacon. Since completing her Ph.D. in communications at University of Montreal, she has been writing about finance, insurance and credit cards for companies like Fonds FMOQ and Code F. As a responsible user of credit cards, she can spend hours reading the fine print to fully understand their benefits. Because of their simplicity, she developed a preference for cash back cards. After suffering steep increases with her former insurer, she can now proudly say that she saved hundreds of dollars by shopping around for her auto and home insurance. In her free time, she reads novels and enjoys streaming popular shows (and possibly less popular shows, like animal documentaries).