Are electric cars cheaper to operate and own than gas cars?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 15, 2020 04:53 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 15, 2020 04:53 AM

Electric cars are usually cheaper to own and operate than gas cars, although as one Quoran below pointed out, you can certainly cherry pick data that shows the opposite.

Factors that will determine the cost of driving electric vs. gas:

Electricity price in your area. Don’t forget to consider time-of-use (TOU) and special EV electricity rates that could save a lot of money. TOU rates encourage you to charge overnight which could yield substantial savings in electric costs.
Gas prices in your area. Don’t forget to account for the fact that gas prices fluctuate significantly, so you need to take into account possible future price increases (as well as decreases).
What kind of vehicle are you considering? If you are looking for the cheapest possible vehicle (as was chosen in another answer) to get you from point A to point B, an EV probably won’t meet that need as EVs tend to be rather well outfitted with technology and be put into higher end segments. Plus extremely cheap gas cars tend to get pretty good mileage as well, so they tend to compare reasonably well with EVs. But if you are looking to spend around the average new car purchase price ($34,000) rather than $13,000 on an econo-box, you will find EVs in that range that compare quite favorably with equivalent gas cars. And if you are a used car buyer, used EV prices are even far more competitive than used gas vehicles due to uncertainties with battery longevity (for some makes) and the impact of the federal tax credit.
Let me lay out my own example to counter the example laid out in another answer.

I’ll assume that we’re talking about a more mainstream affordable EV. A good choice for 2018 would be the 2018 Nissan LEAF with a 40kWh battery pack. This offers about 150 miles of range. A mid-range SV trim level would cost $33,375 (about the average for new car purchases in the US). After federal tax credit of $7500, this brings the purchase price to $25,875 (not everyone would qualify for this credit, but there are leasing options for those that don’t). Mid-trim level Nissan Altima would be $26,680, right around the same cost. The Altima is a bit roomier than the LEAF, but otherwise I think it’s a pretty close comparison feature-wise.

As for fueling costs, the LEAF gets around 3.6–3.8 miles/kWh. You’ll have to calculate this for your area, but here in NC, even without TOU rates, 1 kWh costs about $0.11 (TOU rates are about half that). This gives a per mile cost of 3.14 cents per mile.

The Altima should deliver about 35 mpg. Here in NC, gas currently costs $2.46/gal. This comes out to 7.03 cents per mile.

Our friend in the bay area has a lengthy commute of 80 miles/day, but I will go with the US average commute of 40 miles/day, even though with my example the 80 miles would yield even more savings.

At 40 miles, your daily EV “fuel” cost would be $1.26 while your gas fuel costs would be $2.81.

Your savings would add up to $46.50/month or $558/year.

And don’t forget that with your gas car you need to factor in oil changes are other periodic maintenance that doesn’t apply to the EV.

Now yes, with some EVs, Nissan’s in particular, battery longevity is an issue. So eventually you will get to a point where you need to trade in your battery. Right now the cost is about $5500 for the replacement, so a sizeable figure. However, you are not having to replace O2 sensors, spark plugs, mufflers in that time. You don’t need to worry about oil changes, transmission issues, fuel pumps, water pumps, etc. In 8 years of ownership of my previous gas I spent over $9000 on repairs. Granted, some of those were for things like window switches that an EV would also suffer from, but the point is that gas vehicles have 4x the number of parts as an EV and are therefore pretty susceptible to expensive repairs.

And if you do come across a used Nissan LEAF for example, even with a depleted battery, it could be a great buying opportunity because once you replace the battery, you have essentially brought the car to its original condition drivetrain-wise.

No pun intended, but as I said originally, your mileage may vary depending on your situation. But in general, electric cars are much more affordable from a total cost of ownership perspective.

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