Electric vehicles can save 50 to 85 percent in fueling costs per year.

Electric vehicles reduce fueling costs per years with the national average in fuel and electricity.


Summary Information

Driving on electricity instead of gasoline can save thousands of dollars in fueling costs over the life of a car. But electric vehicles currently cost more to buy than their internal combustion counterparts, though prices are expected to decline as investments in EV technology and manufacturing ramp up. New EV buyers may also need to buy charging infrastructure, thereby adding some additional up-front expenses. Given these added costs, the ability to save money on fueling is an important incentive for potential EV owners. This report helps consumers understand how much in savings can be expected and how to maximize those savings by choosing the best utility rate plan for their needs.

Electric vehicles need to be plugged in, often for many hours, to fully recharge a depleted battery. As a result, EV owners will most likely choose to charge their vehicles at home while the car is parked in the driveway or garage. Adding an EV to a home’s electrical load will have an impact on the total amount of electricity consumed—i.e., higher monthly electric bills. For example, a typical midsize EV driven 30 miles daily will require about 10 kWh of electricity to be fully recharged each day, or about 300 kWh per month. This load can amount to a 25 to 60 percent increase in monthly electricity consumption for the average household.

But higher monthly electricity bills don’t mean that EVs won’t save you money on fueling costs. An owner of a compact vehicle with average fuel economy will buy more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline and spend $18,000 on this fuel over the vehicle’s 15-year lifetime, assuming a gas price of $3.50 per gallon. With a national average price for electricity of about 11 cents/kWh a typical midsize EV could save nearly $13,000. Most electric vehicles being offered by automakers today are small to midsize cars, a trend expected to continue over the next few years, so fuel-cost savings from EVs are compared with the average new compact gasoline vehicle, which has an EPA city/highway fuel economy rating of 27 mpg. Even compared with the cost of fueling a 50 mpg gasoline vehicle, an EV could save more than $4,500—going a long way toward offsetting the additional cost of the vehicle and any home-based charging equipment.

However, electricity prices vary across the country. A closer look at the costs of charging an EV at home in 50 major U.S. cities shows that decisions on rate plans and when you charge can significantly alter the amount you will pay to power your EV.

  • When charging on the lowest-cost electricity plan, EV owners can save $750 to $1,200 per year in fuel costs compared with the cost of operating the average compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) at gasoline prices of $3.50 per gallon. This finding represents a reduction in fueling costs of 50 to 85 percent every year.
  • In every one of the 50 cities, EV owners will save money on fueling costs compared with the average compact gasoline vehicle, even without changing to the lowest-rate plans.
  • Switching from a standard rate plan to a time-of-use rate plan and then primarily charging the car when electricity is cheapest can mean hundreds of dollars in additional savings per year, especially in California cities

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State of Charge: Electric Vehicle' Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Cavings across the United States

Author: Don Anair, Amine Mahmassani Union of Concerned Scientists

Published By: Union of Concerned Scientists

Source Date: 06/02/2012



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Benefit ID: 2014-00908