There are many reasons for making an electric vehicle (EV) the next car you buy or lease. Besides the environmental benefits, the promise of energy security, the silky-smooth driving experience with instant torque available without delay, and minimal maintenance requirements, one of the best characteristics of EVs is how little they cost to operate.
Just as with gasoline cars, some EVs are more efficient than others, but the average EV needs about 30 kWh of electricity for 100 miles of range. For example, the EPA rating for the Nissan LEAF is exactly 30 kWh of electricity needed per 100 miles driven. A Tesla Model S 70D is rated at a combined 33 kWh per 100 miles and uses a little more energy since it is heavier and more powerful than a LEAF. The BMW i3 BEV is currently the most fuel efficient car (electric or otherwise) available in the United States, and has a combined consumption rating of 27 kWh per 100 miles. The consumption for all EVs can be viewed at the US Department of Energy’s website: www.fueleconomy.gov
According to researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the sales-weighted average fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States in 2016 was 25.2 mpg. The average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. over the past five years was $3.32/gallon. By using 15,000 miles as the average amount of miles a person will drive in a year, the annual cost of gasoline for the average car will be $1,976.20 per year, using the average cost of gasoline from 2011 through 2015.
Electricity rates vary much more than gasoline across the country, but the cost over time is much more stable. There aren’t huge spikes in electricity rates if a refinery has a problem like there is with gasoline, and neither does the price skyrocket when there is political instability in one of the larger oil producing countries as we have historically seen, since all of the electricity we use in America is domestically produced. The average cost of electricity in the U.S. is 12 cents per kWh. As mentioned, the average EV needs about 30 kWh of electricity to drive 100 miles. Therefore, the average person driving the average EV 15,000 miles per year will pay about $540.00 annually to charge their car. As mentioned, the cost of electricity can vary greatly depending on where you live, but in order to equal the price of the average gasoline car’s fuel costs, the price of electricity would have to be nearly four times the national average and cost 44 cents per kWh.
Another great thing about electric cars is that you can easily reduce your electric bill by $40 to $50 per month just by being more efficient and therefore completely eliminate your transportation fuel cost! You can’t use less gasoline unless you drive less or buy a more efficient car, but you can reduce your electricity usage at home and still drive as much as you always have. Simple measures like programmable thermostats and the use of efficient LED light bulbs can make a big difference. In fact, five 100 watt incandescent light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts per hour. In 24 hours, they use 12,000 watts or 12 kWh. In 365 days, they use 4,380 kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles requires 4,500 kWh of electricity to drive 15,000 miles a year. Simply by turning off unnecessary lighting at your home you can drastically reduce – or eliminate – your annual transportation fuel cost entirely!