Canemure Best Practices: What will a car cost you and the climate?

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If the current target to halve road transport emissions by 2030 shall be accomplished, passenger car emissions must dramatically decrease. Besides generally driving less, fast renewal and decarbonisation of the Finnish passenger car fleet is inevitable.

What will a car cost you and the climate? ▼▼ The

higher upfront costs of low-emission, and especially electric, cars slow down the decarbonisation of the transport sector. As presented, climate-smart choices, however, do not need to be compromised by the economy in the long run. Autokalkulaattori calculator enables consumers to compare different car options and helps them to understand the cumulative costs of car ownership, as well as the cumulative life cycle climate impacts.

▼▼ The

▼▼ Alternatives

to car ownership exist and are available especially to city dwellers. The Alternative mobility calculator KULKURI helps citizens to explore costs and climate impacts related to a lifestyle that does not include car ownership but does not exclude the use of a car.


Towards Carbon Neutral Municipalities and Regions


Comparison of different fuels


The car market has never been as diverse as it is today. Traditional petrol and transport diesel internal combustion engine cars have been accompanied in recent years represents by other commercial alternatives – multifuel cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids, the single most as well as all-electric cars. Due to the increasing regulatory pressure, once important source of marginal technologies are now quickly becoming mainstream. The wide municipal greenhouse range of power trains, together with increasing upfront costs, and habitual gas (GHG) emissions. Most lock-ins make it difficult for consumers to make the purchase decision.

are caused by passenger For most, car ownership represents one of their biggest expenditures. Consumers’ understanding of cumulative costs of car ownership beyond the purchase price must improve. The Autokalkulaattori .fi calculator helps with just that. It is a simple-to-use, but comprehensive and customisable tool to compare cumulative costs of car ownership, as well as its life cycle climate impacts. To demonstrate Autokalkulaattori, we compare three example cars at three different price levels a petrol car, a petrol plug-in hybrid and an all-electric car. For the all-electric car, the price levels correlate with different battery sizes.

Electric cars are better for the climate Under the default scenario of driving 14,000 km annually, an all-electric car is a no-brainer from the climate point of view. Life cycle climate impacts (CO2e) of a low-end all-electric car with a 40 kWh battery – currently a standard configuration – become lower than those of a comparable petrol car already after two years of use (~30,000 km). Even an all-electric car equipped with a large 80 kWh battery will be better for the climate than a comparable petrol car after approximately four years of use (~56,000 km), including emissions from manufacturing. The same all-electric car will be better for climate than a plug-in hybrid car after approximately 6.5 years of use (~90,000 km), considering that the plug-in hybrid runs on electricity a total of half of the drives. With an increased share of electric drives, a plug-in hybrid will perform more like an all-electric car. Other alternative fuels, such as sustainable biofuels, which can lower transport emissions exist and they can also be compared in the Autokalkulaattori. Due to their limited availability, and because their use should be prioritised in heavy transport, these were not considered in the example comparison.

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, t CO2e



Emissions of an all-electric car with a medium-sized (60kWh) battery, as well as one with a larger (80 kWh) battery, become lower than those of a petrol car during the 4th year of use.



Emissions of a plug-in hybrid are lower than those of a petrol car already during the 1st year of use.


During its lifetime, even with a high share of electric drives (80%), a plug-in hybrid will still cause more emissions than allelectric cars equipped with small and the medium-sized batteries.

Plug-in hybrid




All-electric A plug-in hybrid with a 50% share of electric drives will cause more emissions than an all-electric car with a medium sized battery from the 5th year of use onwards. Emissions of an all-electric car with a smaller battery (40kWh) will become lower than those of a petrol car after two years of use. 1






7 8 9 10 Year of use Annual mileage 14,000 km






(Source: Autokalkulaattori)

Figure 1. Lifecycle GHG emissions of different drivetrains during 15 years of use.



All-electric cars are cheaper than they seem The total cost of car ownership naturally depends on many parameters. One of them is the purchase price which reflects the brand, equipment, performance and, in the case of an all-electric car, also the battery size and consequently the range. Despite the higher purchase price, a full-electric car appears to be the cheapest option in the long run under the defined scenario, mainly due to lower running and service costs. An all-electric car with a 40 kWh battery becomes cheaper than a comparably priced petrol car already after approximately three years of use (~42,000 km). It will become the cheapest of all the considered alternatives after approximately 10 years of use (~140,000 km). A plug-in hybrid version is still more expensive than a comparable petrol car. If driven mostly as an all-electric car, a plug-in hybrid becomes cheaper to own than a petrol car at about the same time with an all-electric car (3 years, ~42,000 km) and it will be only slightly more expensive than that The renewal currently depends over its lifetime. If charged less often, a lower-end plug-in hybrid on the choices made by will become a cheaper option than a similarly priced high-end petrol individual and institutional car after approximately five years (~70,000 km). A mid-range plug-in buyers. To facilitate hybrid will be cheaper than a high-end petrol car after approximately climate smart 12 years of use (~168,000 km).

decisions, a broad and long-term view is needed.

There are many more variables affecting the total cost of car ownership. One that is very important, however difficult it is to predict, is the future resale value of a used car. The uncertainty regarding especially currently sold cars with internal combustion engines is great. In the Autokalkulaattori, you can explore different futures by varying the resale value as one of the variables.

A mid-range plug-in hybrid will be cheaper to own than a comparably priced petrol car during the 13th year of use.

90,000 €

A lower-end plug-in hybrid will be cheaper to own than a mid-range petrol car of a lower initial price during the 13th year of use.

80,000 € 70,000 €


60,000 €

Plug-in hybrid Petrol All-electric

A lower-end plug-in hybrid will be cheaper to own than a comparably priced petrol car after the 5th year of use.

50,000 € 40,000 € A higher-end all-electric car will be cheaper to own than a mid-range plug-in hybrid car during the 8th year of use.

30,000 € 20,000 €

A lower-end all-electric car will be cheaper to own than a comparably priced petrol car already during the 3rd year of use.

10,000 € 0€

The total cost of ownership of a higher-end all-electric car will be lower that those of a mid-range petrol car.








During the 10th year of use, an all electric car becomes less expensive to own than a comparable, but initially cheaper, petrol car.

8 9 10 Year of use Annual mileage 14,000 km






(Source: Autokalkulaattori)

Figure 2. Total costs of ownership for different drivetrains during 15 years of use. Purchase prices: 18,000 €, 22,000 € and 26,000 € (petrol); 28,000 €, 32,000 € and 36,000 € (plug-in hybrid, all-electric).


Alternatives exist and make sense for many Urbanisation is a global trend and Finland is no exception. When commuting distances become shorter, and public transport is widely available, car ownership becomes redundant for an increasing number of city dwellers. For an occasional car need, a range of mobility services fills the gap, whether a taxi, car rental, car sharing or mobility as a service (MaaS) solutions. Bicycles, electric bicycles and cargo bicycles are also quickly gaining their popularity and represent a viable alternative to a car within the city limits, especially in commuting. To help citizens to understand the overall costs and climate impacts of alternative forms of personal mobility not involving car ownership, SYKE has developed the Car alternatives calculator KULKURI. The mobility needs of an individual household, and the services used to satisfy them, are unique, as is the comparison between car-owning and car-free households. We demonstrate one such comparison on an example family of four living in Helsinki. The members of the example family meet their daily commuting needs by (e-)cycling and public transport. For longer and weekend trips, they rent a car on a regular basis and, otherwise, travel by train. They occasionally take a taxi. In total, the family travels by car more than 5,000 km a year but they do not need to own one. The mobility climate impacts of this household are comparable to the above discussed example ownership and use of an all-electric car, while the costs can remain lower depending on the services used.

Summary ▼▼ Many

cannot live without a car. If you need to buy a new car, an all-electric car should be at the top of the list. All-electric cars have indisputable climate benefits compared to internal combustion engine cars. Despite the currently high initial costs, they can also be a more economical choice in the long run due to low operational costs. An all-electric car, however, might not be a suitable option for everyone. For those, other low-emission options do exist. Yet, they are not scalable in the same way as all-electric cars and, therefore, do not necessarily offer a systemic long-term solution.

▼▼ Many

could live without a car but may have not tried to do so yet. Understanding the total cost of car ownership and comparing it to the cost of alternative forms of personal mobility might be eye-opening. The KULKURI calculators help with just that.

▼▼ No

motorised form of personal mobility is totally emission-free, nor is it free of other environmental impacts. Maintaining the current levels of motorised individual mobility will have an impact on other environmental issues, such as the use of natural resources, land use and the loss of biodiversity. Considering not only “how” to move, but also “how much”, should become commonplace.

Authors: Jachym Judl, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE and Johanna Mäkinen, Tamperee University

Finnish Environment Institute | |

Picture: Pexels Illustrations: Layout: Satu Turtiainen, SYKE & Marja Vierimaa Helsinki 11/2020 ISBN 978-952-11-5242-9 (PDF) ISBN 978-952-11-5241-2 (print) Car alternatives calculator KULKURI calculator

LIFE17 IPC/FI/000002 LIFE-IP CANEMURE-FINLAND This best practices -brochure has been carried out with the financial contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union. The best practices -brochure reflects only the CANEMURE project’s view, and the EASME/Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.