An EV becomes cost effective when gasoline goes over $1.80 per gallon

The Internet is full of information about the benefits electric vehicles, and usually only mentions the limited range as the drawback. The lifetime of the battery and the cost of replacement is quietly avoided. In my example I’m going to use the Nissan Leaf, because its weight is close to the average weight of a car, and there is some information about what a new battery costs. We don’t know what a battery for a Tesla costs because Tesla won’t sell one to the public, they will only sell one to an authorized repair facility at a subsidized price to be installed in a vehicle, and I believe they keep the old battery.

I’ll exclude the benefit of reduced maintenance cost in an EV, since that balances out with the inconvenience of reduced range compared to a fuel burning vehicle. I’ll also exclude issues with battery degradation over time on infrequently driven vehicles, and battery issues from prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

I’ll also exclude the cost of electricity to give the EV an advantage. I will only consider the cost of the lithium ion battery.

The 24kWh battery leaf gives you 72 miles of range. The typical life is around 100,000 miles, and by that point the usable range (the battery life bars on the right side of the charge level indicator) are down so much that the range is down hear half of the original 72 miles.

A new battery costs $6000 or so. So it cost you that much to drive 100k miles. That’s $0.06 per mile for an efficient EV, not including charging costs. A good gasoline powered car that is around the same size will get you 30 miles per gallon. To get $0.06 per mile from 30 MPG, gasoline needs to cost $1.80 per gallon. If your car gets 40 MPG, gasoline needs to be $2.40. If you drive a Prius that gets 50 MPG, gasoline needs to cost $3.00 per gallon to equal the Leaf. I know the Prius needs a $4000 battery replacement somewhere up around 200k miles, but I also didn’t consider the charging costs of the EV.

If the charging cost of the Leaf is considered, and it takes 333W-hr to go a mile (24kWh / 72), and electricity costs 10 cents per kWh, that’s 3.33 cents to go a mile. Add that to the battery cost of 6 cents and now it costs 9.33 cents to go a mile. A non hybrid Honda Civic that gets 36 MPG (EPA) will need to have gasoline cost over $3.36 to cost more to drive than the Leaf.

My example used a compact electric vehicle, with the smallest battery option. If the math for something a lot heavier like a Tesla is done the numbers will get a lot worse.

It doesn’t seem like even a compact EV saves you much money, even at times when gasoline prices are very high. It only makes sense for extreme city driving and minimal highway use.


We have 2 2017 cars, hoping they will make it till 2027. Now I love green but we have no plans to do anything vehicle wise.

Sure we could spend ? grand on a new high efficiency furnace, saving 300 a year in gas. Our 70’s era furnace, no brains, replaced thermocouple a couple of times, and a line interrupter and have a spare thermocouple, maybe $150. Sure I could replace it for a furnace that might last 10 years and cost many grand to do. Lifetime warranty on heat exchanger, had to replace the AC, guy says they are still available. In fact he had the same furnace and replaced it with a high efficiency model, and missed the blast of warm air and said the brains for a new furnace can cost 800 alone, and did not save that much money on as. Gas cost last month $167.33 in WI, no it has not been that warm, summertime maybe $50 with stove, water heater and dryer. The heating season runs from Nov. 1 to April 30, The company forecasts that the average residential customer will spend $477

So whatever I spend in gas for cars he next 5 years I am willing to live with. We between both cars put on maybe 15k a year, and need the suv to tow the boat, so not jumping on the ev bandwagon anytime soon. Then one might want to figure in the cost of buying an ev spread out over the next 5 years, and calculate savings from there.

Agree. Or at least calculate the extra cost for an EV over a comparable ICE car. That used to be a pretty decent spread, although I have no idea with today’s prices. Of course I think the government was giving out grants or whatever if you bought an EV at one time (and probably still are) so you’d have to figure that in as well. Not sure what you’d need to upgrade electrically at your house to be able to rapid charge an EV, if anything. Might be a one time cost there. Lots of things to consider.

It also depends on where you live. Here in NH we have one of the highest electric rates in the country. But and EV could still be cheaper. It depends on our state legislator who’s proposing a EV tax because EV vehicles aren’t paying road tax by buying gas. But overall I still think an EV will be cheaper.

I still need more mileage per charge in order for us to buy one. And the battery technology is changing fast. I suspect in less then 10 years the batteries will be completely different then what’s being used today.

That’s why my next vehicle is going to be a plug-in hybrid.

If you had to choose between a Honda Civic and a Nissan Leaf, which would you pick? Pretend both vehicles cost the same, and forget the limited range and differences in maintenance costs for the moment.

For Petes Sake , that is an apple to orange comparison .

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Neither. While range and cost is important to us…small compacts are NOT a vehicle we’d be buying. An EV Lexus would be fine.

It’s not that far off. Both cars are of about the same size (current models). I could see someone who wasn’t committed either way to electric cars to cross shop them.

The 2022 Leaf has a price range from 27000 to 37400 and the Civic is from 22350 to 28950 so I don’t think they are a comparison example.

Once you figure in the EV government rebate, the prices are competitive.

Heck, an EV Lexus would be fine with me too. See, Mike, some of us can give an inch! :wink:

In other words, ignore the major differences and limitations of the two vehicles.

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Exactly. It turns out he doesn’t like either vehicle due to size or safety or features or towing capacity or whatever else not related to cost and range. So a comparison between a Tesla and a Lexus would be a better place to start in this case.

Just a quick calculation. If you drive 5000 miles a year at $2.00 a gallon, the annual fuel cost would be $400. Not much money to work with considering the cost of the car and electric rates. Of course the folks from Mars are over-joyed at high gas cost which would give you $800-1200 a year to work with. With fuzzy math though you can make anything work, especially if you give out free cars (paid for by us of course).

So you have a 25 MPG car, which is quite reasonable. 5000 / 25 = 200 gallons * $2 = $400. With gasoline averaging more like $3, it costs $600 + $35 oil change to drive 5000 miles.

Unfortunately, YOU or I don’t make government policy.

Yup or $0.007 per mile for oil. Just sayin’ is all but for me it’s not cost, it’s utility. Others will disagree and that’s fine, it’s their money.

I drive about 15,000 miles per year and get about 35 MPG. If gas costs cost $4.15/gal then gasoline sets me back about $1800 each year.

Lexus doesn’t offer an electric vehicle.