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HomeFeaturesPetrol vs Diesel vs Electric – Monthly insurance premiums in South Africa compared

Petrol vs Diesel vs Electric – Monthly insurance premiums in South Africa compared

Insuring a BMW X3 is more expensive when it’s electric than when it runs on fossil fuels like petrol or diesel, but not by a staggering amount.

To reach this conclusion, we compared the monthly premiums of three variants of the popular X3 using Hippo.co.za’s car insurance quote tool, as it is one of the few vehicles in South Africa that are available with all three propulsion methods.

To keep things consistent, we chose the petrol and diesel models that were the closest in price and specifications to the electric iX3, these being the:

On average, the petrol X3 was the cheapest option to insure, which is not surprising given that it is the most affordable one to purchase.

Depending on the insurer, the diesel derivative was between R232 and R934 more expensive to cover on a monthly basis than the petrol, and the electric variant was between R705 and R1,707.

These quotes were provided on comprehensive cover for a single male living in Johannesburg with no claims history, who can store the vehicle in a locked garage overnight.

The more detailed numbers can be perused in the following table:

Insurer X3 20i (petrol) X3 30d (diesel) iX3 (electric)
Nedbank R1,843 R1,843 R1,843
King Price R2,211 R2,443 R2,916
Budget R2,323 R3,152 R3,829
1st for Women R2,414 R3,287 R4,016
Auto & General R2,424 R3,296 R4,010
Dialdirect R2,463 R3,320 R4,022
Virseker R2,580 R3,514 R4,287

Regarding the excess payable on these vehicles, once again the petrol was the most wallet-friendly, followed by the diesel, then the electric X3.

An excess is the amount that you are required to pay as a client if you are involved in a car accident and make a claim to your insurer.

For the diesel, the excess was anywhere from R1,700 to R1,900 higher than the petrol-powered BMW, and for the battery-electric model, it was between R3,800 and R3,900 higher.

You can see the rand figures per insurer below:

Insurer X3 20i (petrol) X3 30d (diesel) iX3 (electric)
Nedbank R5,000 R5,000 R5,000
King Price R6,500 R6,500 R6,500
Budget R15,800 R17,500 R19,600
1st for Women R15,400 R17,300 R19,300
Auto & General R15,400 R17,300 R19,300
Dialdirect R15,400 R17,300 R19,300
Virseker R15,400 R17,300 R19,300

Why the difference

Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive insurance does not cover the replacement of a vehicle, but rather the cost of repairing it if it’s involved in an accident.

It will only be replaced if it’s deemed “uneconomical to repair” – in which case the cost of restoration surpasses the insured value of the car, according to King Price.

Naturally, a more expensive car will therefore have a higher insured value, but when the price of the car is nearly equal, such as in the case of the diesel and electric X3, the cost of their parts plays a major role in the amount you will have to pay for protecting them.

For example, an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery accounts for around 20-30% of its total cost, as opposed to a diesel engine which is closer to approximately 10-15% of the overall window sticker.

Therefore, if the EV battery were to be damaged in an accident, it would be far more expensive to replace than a diesel engine.

Given that EVs are still in their infancy in comparison to internal combustion motors they could also take longer to repair, which adds to the final tally.

In addition, a replacement electric motor will likely be harder to come by and pricier than one that burns fossil fuels as the market for these is much smaller, and components such as the on-board charger and regenerative braking system will run your insurer a pretty penny, too.

Other factors also affect an insurance premium, such as your age, gender, address, vehicle make and model, where the car is stored overnight, and your claims history.

But, when these are all equal such as in the above comparison, electric tends to trump fuel in terms of its cost to buy and insure.

On the bright side, an EV is less of a risk for theft as it is difficult for criminals to use or get rid of. Were it not, it might have been even pricier to cover.

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