Comparison classic cars with new cars


a stunning photo of the alps
a stunning photo of the alps

We wanted to find out how environmentally friendly the different types of vehicles are. One question we asked ourselves was if classic cars are really as harmful to the environment as modern combustion engines and electric cars, or is it not as bad as most of society believes?
And what is the comparison between a new combustion engine and a comparable electric car? Where are the advantages and disadvantages of these two types of drive?

In order to make a meaningful analysis, the entire process from production to use to disposal was included, as far as possible.

Cost comparison

When making a cost comparison between a “normal” car and an electric car, all prices refer to Switzerland. One must consider the following points:

– Acquisition costs
– Maintenance costs (repair, refuelling / charging, etc.)
– Stability of value

Acquisition costs

The acquisition costs for an electric car are significantly higher than for a petrol car of the same type.
If we take the Hyundai Kona, for example, as a comparison, we are talking about a price difference of 12,000 Swiss francs between the petrol and electric versions in these days.

Costs per year

Calculations based on 15’000 km driven per year.

the new Hyundai Kona
the new Hyundai Kona with petrol engine

Hyundai Kona Origo version, petrol
Petrol engine: 198 hp
Acquisition costs: 30’900 Swiss franc (CHF)
Insurance (AXA premium calculator) = 1’845.44 (fully comprehensive)
Road toll (Canton of Zurich) = 178.-
Maintenance costs (according to = 2’000.-
Fuel costs (according to = 9’100.- (very dependent on petrol price -> tendency increasing over the next years)
Depreciation over 3-4 years = approx. 35-40% = 12’000.-

Costs over 4 years = approx. 64’493.80

For the calculation we used different sources:
[1], [2], [4], [5], [7]


the new Hyundai Kona electric
the new Hyundai Kona electric

Hyundai Kona Origo version, electric
Electric: 204 hp
Acquisition costs: 42’900 swiss franc (CHF)
Insurance (AXA premium calculator) = 1’748.77 (fully comprehensive)
Road tolls (Canton of Zurich) = 0.-
Maintenance costs (according to = 1’800.-
Electric costs for charging (according to = 3’900.-
Loss of value over 3-4 years = approx. 45% = approx. 19’000.-

Costs over 4 years = approx. 48’795.10

[1], [3], [4], [5], [6]


Calculation of total costs for 4 years assuming that the vehicle is resold after this time.
Insurance costs x 4 + road tolls x 4 + maintenance costs x 4 + loading/tank costs x 4 + loss of value = result

As you can see, the total costs after 4 years differ by approx. 15’700.-.
in favour of the electric vehicle.

I would never have thought this, but due to the extremely high fuel costs, it comes to this very big difference.


Climate comparison

So which car is really the more climate-friendly?
It is asked from the construction of the different cars about the use.
Is the internal combustion engine more eco-friendly in the beginning or is an electric vehicle the better car thoroughly?


While driving:
Electric car: 0 grams of CO2 per kilometer
Internal combustion car: between 100 – 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Diesel vehicles are significantly more environmentally friendly. However, an average value of 120 grams of CO2 is used for the comparison.
Point for the electric vehicle.

Refueling or charging:
Here it depends extremely on the country in which the electricity is produced. Germany is taken as a comparison country which still has a high proportion, in numbers over a third, of dirty coal-fired power plants.
It is extremely difficult to get exact figures, but one can say that the electric vehicle in this topic with a normal electricity mix emits about twice as much CO2 as has to be spent on a combustion engine.
However, the average consumption plays a major role, especially on the side of the electric vehicle.
Point for the combustion engine.

Vehicle production:
Electric car: The needed cobalt and lithium is extremely harmful to the environment and must not be approved. In production, the electric car is massively worse and this ” deficit ” must then be made up for through mileage.
Point for the combustion engine.

In this point, the electric car can score more points. Up to 60% of the valuable materials can be reused. This is environmentally friendly and the electric car can recover a lot of what was lost during production.
Point for the electric car.

According to the ADAC study, the electric vehicle will always be the more climate-friendly car over its mileage.
But the numbers were surprising.
An average vehicle with a gasoline engine is overtaken at around 130’000km, a diesel even after around 220’000km.


It can be expected that the electricity mix will improve significantly in the future. If only “green” electricity would be used, the combustion engine would be overtaken after about 40’000km!
In the future, the electric car will become more and more environmentally friendly and so the comparison will be more and more clearly in favor of the electric car.

[8], [9], [10], [11]


Comparison between oldtimer and new cars

It was very difficult to get any information about the energy output of oldtimers. After a long search I found a reliable source from which I took the information that gave me a very surprising result.


The biggest positive point about a vintage car is the fact that it has already been manufactured.
In Europe, a new car is purchased every 5-7 years on average. Since most of the emissions are produced during the manufacturing process and then “decomposed” during use, the modern car becomes more and more environmentally friendly the longer it is driven.

old Porsche 911
old Porsche 911

Yes, a classic car is by far not the most efficient vehicle in use, but if you take a 40 year old Porsche, then you save on average 6-8 times the energy emissions that occur in the production of new cars.

In addition, with the veteran status the car is moved a maximum of 2’000km, more is not allowed by law. This also leads to massively lower emissions.

According to the CEBR study, it was calculated that a vintage car emits about 563kg of CO2 per year, which corresponds to half of a smartphone emission per year.

This is not to say that a classic car is more energy friendly than a modern electric car, but it definitely has its justified right to exist.

[12], [13]



At the beginning, we would not have thought that there are still such big differences between the various types of engines. In terms of price and ecology.
The project has shown us that each type of drive has its own advantages and disadvantages. Especially with the new technology of electric drives, it is very important that research continues in order to reduce the extremely high production costs. Only then can it be completely better than the combustion engines.

Project of Joel Zürni and Mario Anderegg.



[1] Maintenance costs reference point  (
[2] Calculate the depreciation of petrol cars (
[3] Calculate depreciation of electric cars (
[4] Calculate insurance (
[5] Calculate road taxes (
[6] New price Kona Electric (
[7] New price Kona Petrol (
[8] Ökobilanz: Elektroauto vs. Verbrenner (
[9] Auto: CO2-Ausstoß im Überblick (
[10] Kimaschutz: E-Autos sind nicht besser fürs Klima als Verbrenner (
[11] CO2-Bilanz: Wie umweltfreundlich sind E-Autos wirklich? (
[12] Economic-impact-of-the-HIstoric-Motor-Industry-in-the-UK-final-Dec-10-3 (
[13] Oldtimerfahren ist halb so belastend wie Handynutzen (

Internal links:

on topic post on dwme
What could be your future car?
Car Industry – Lies and Problems
Electric cars in Zurich
Overview of electric cars and personal experience
Formula E Car: How fast can you go?
Zurich city without fuel-powered cars



K. Zollinger
C. Henzelmann

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

3 thoughts on “Comparison classic cars with new cars

  1. Ein sehr schöner Beitrag und eine wunderschöne Website!

    Danke für die Information!

    Mach so weiter! 🙂

    Die besten Grüße von sebastian
    Auswander Lexikon

  2. A very nice post with great pictures. It is exciting to see how the two cars differ and in what they differ. What I find a bit unfortunate is that the respective titles are completely different, which gives the image a chaotic look.

  3. Thank you for your informative post. You have shown the comparison including costs between old and new cars very well. The pictures of the roads and nature are awesome. In addition, I find the reflection very honest and objective.

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