Driving a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) is getting easier with the arrival of new longer range and more affordable options, including several offerings with all-wheel drive. Plug-in hybrids like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can run 20-plus miles on the battery and then continue running on gasoline for longer trips.
Plugging your ride brings many benefits, including reducing fossil fuel use and associated harmful emissions, fun-to-drive performance with the great torque of electric motors, and significant cost savings potential due to reduced maintenance and fueling costs. This article focuses on the savings EV ownership can bring.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s eGallon tool, driving an EV is equivalent to about $1.20 per gallon of gasoline nationally. In Vermont, it is closer to $1.60 / gallon cost equivalent due to electric rates a bit higher than the national average. This is a great bargain, as gasoline prices are around $2.75 per gallon in late 2018. Several electric utilities offer off-peak charging rates or other EV charging discounts that bring the cost of driving an EV down even further.
Electric utilities are regulated, so prices are relatively stable over time. This means you don’t need to worry about breaking your household budget due to the whims of OPEC, climate-change related flooding of refineries, or other issues that can drive up gasoline prices in your area.
EVs also have fewer maintenance requirements than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Regenerative braking systems reduce wear on brake pads and other systems. All-electric vehicles don’t have an internal combustion engine, so eliminate the need for oil changes and many other potential maintenance headaches.
Owning any vehicle is an expensive endeavor, but there are many EV options that can significantly reduce costs of ownership. The table below presents a simplified look at several factors that affect the total cost of owning a vehicle for a typical new gasoline car, the all-electric Nissan LEAF with about 150 miles of range, and the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid vehicle with about 25 miles of electric range and the ability to run on gasoline.
The EV options qualify for the federal EV tax credit, and the LEAF is also often eligible for a further $5,000 price reduction through Nissan “fleet-tail” discounts offered in partnership with electric utilities and others. Even with our relatively low gasoline costs at the end of 2018, EVs can cut your vehicle energy costs in half or more.
Six Year Vehicle Cost of Ownership Comparison
All told, choosing an EV over a gasoline car the next time you are shopping for a new vehicle could save you 30% or more annually. There are excellent calculators available online that offer customized vehicle comparisons based on your specific travel patterns, charging availability and vehicle efficiency. Some calculators can also help estimate costs for leasing an EV. Leasing is a popular option for many EV owners as the leasing company claims the federal tax credit and passes it through in the form of lower monthly payments or down payment costs. Leases typically run about 3 years, so you can be assured there will many more EVs available the next time you are in the market.
Used EVs are not eligible for the federal tax credit, but they can be an even better deal with much lower purchase prices compared to new vehicles. Just do some research and have the vehicle checked out before buying to make sure it will work for your needs.
No wonder EV ownership is soaring in the Northeast!
David Roberts is the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator. He has driven an all-electric car for the past six years and says if you must drive, drive electric.
References and Notes
U.S. DOE Vehicle Cost Calculator: https://afdc.energy.gov/calc/