# Cost of driving Electric car?

Now, in fact, unless gas goes to \$15 a gallon, for most folk, gas is a very small percentage of the overall cost of using a car. Initial cost (total cost INCLUDING INTEREST IF FINANCED), cost of maintenance and repairs, insurance–usually these are 95% to 97% of the cost of running a car.

Still, even a small savings would be nice.

So, here’s a question no one ever seems to ask. Yet it is the first question everyone should ask. How much will it cost me per mile to drive an electric car? I live in South Florida, and electricity is expensive.

I know that I get 18.4 miles per gallon, and let us speculate that a gallon costs, say, \$3.50. So just for gas, I would pay 19 cents a mile. So if I have to drive 30 miles, it would cost me about \$5.70 to make the trip.

My question is how much will if cost me in kilowatts to make the same trip in an electric car?

Someone surely has calculated this for various electric cars for each of the major cities, and Miami/Fort Lauderdale is a major city. But I can’t find it.

If this information already is on this blog (or anywhere else on the net), then I shall be grateful if someone will tell me how to find it.

The www.fueleconomy.gov site shows that a 2011 Nissan Leaf is good for a combined 34 KWH per 100 miles. For your comparison question, there is other data that uses .12 per KWH and gasoline at 4.06 per gallon.

According to what I have read, at today’s prices, an electric car saves money when compared to an internal combustion motor until the mileage reaches about 90 plus mpg. There are no oil changes, coolant changes, transmission service etc on electric cars. The problem is EVERY thing you do beyond driving without any creature comforts cuts into this advantage especially heating the interior where the ICE has a distinct advantage. This makes EVs in northern climates a summer only option.

Other problems include range anxiety and the high initial cost of an EV to make up for the loss of profit realized during it’s lifetime from unnecessary maintenance. Without considering these other factors, it makes little sense to me to compare them on mileage alone.

Alpha Male, your figures are wildly inaccurate. Historically, cost of car ownership has been 1/3 depreciation, 1/3 maintenance and repairs and 1/3 fuel. I’m not ading insurance here for the time being, since this is highly personal and site specific…

Unless Alpha Male is single and under 25, living in New York, these above figures apply. I have actually kept track of these over the full life of a newly bought car.

So, a \$20,000 4 cylinder car being driven 250,000 miles over its life and getting 30 mpg at \$2.50 per gallon will consume (250,000/30) x2.50=\$20,833 worth of gas. That’s about as much as the car is worth. Maintenance and repairs over that life will also consume about \$20,000.

However, for the single male under in New Yor driving a sporty car, the \$12,000 per year insurance will be the kicker. However, the family in Twisted Scalp, Tennessee, will only pay about \$500 per year times the 20 year life of the car, equalling \$10,000 or so.

The same 30 mile trip would cost you about \$1.00 in an area with high priced electricity. The car would have to be a total electric like a “leaf” or Volt where the gas motor did not kick in at all. You can reduce electricity cost in some areas with 220V over 120V and by charging at night when rates are lower if you have special meters available from some electric companies.

What kind of money pit are you buying that costs \$20,000 to keep repaired over its life? My truck (97 Chevy K1500 4X4) with 322,000 miles. Has never cost more than about \$400 avg per year in repairs. I have owned this truck for 5 years and when I got it had 79,000 miles on it. Thats only \$2000.00 and if I off by say \$1000.00. Thats sill only \$3000. Most cars today are only going to last 10-12 years. A \$1000.00 a year in repairs and maintenance I think is high. I guess a dealer could suck more than that out of a car owner.

@oldbodyman, 243,000 miles in 5 years implies a lot of highway miles, pretty far from a typical case.

An average driver is more likely to drive 243,000 miles in about 20 years.
\$500-1000 a year for maintenance and repair is easily possible, especially if done at a dealership.

In my area, what you spend for a gallon of gas is more that what it would cost to charge overnight.

Oldbodyman:

The average US driver spends \$1100 per year in maintenance, repairs and replacements. These are government and AAA figures. The average miles driven is about 12,500 or so over the life of the car, which is 20 years or so.

Those 250,000 miles over 20 years include about 50 oil & filter changes, 5 cooling system flushes, probably 5 brake jobs, 4 batteries, 4 sets of belts, 5 sets of tires and so on.

Please add all these together and you’ll see where the \$20,000 comes from. Please also add your own MAINTENANCE, and TIRES to all your repairs. The figures you gave us no doubt miss a lot of what you actually spent.

We have a 1994 Nissan which has incurred \$9929 so far in 135,000 miles of mostly city driving, and projecting this to 250,000 would amount to \$18387 over its complete life. These figures are typical.

According to this long term test they’ve been using about 33 kw-hr per 100 miles, so it depends on your electical costs. At \$0.15/kw-hr that’s \$5/100 miles.

In addition to dagosa’s comment about maintenance, I would like to add that storing an EV during winter months should be easier and less harmful for the vehicle than storing an ICE. You wouldn’t need to buy fuel stabilizer and you wouldn’t need to worry about things like seals drying up (although this is more of an issue on air-cooled engines). You would just need to keep it plugged in to keep the batteries in good shape.

Unfortunately, batteries seem to age according to time, not mileage, so if your EV is sitting in storage half the time, that would put a big dent in cost effectiveness.

I don’t think anyone really knows the true cost of operating an EV yet. The only thing currently known is that it’ll depend highly on the individual vehicle, the terrain, and the driving style. Also known is that no battery array currently known will be usable indefinitely, and the battery pack replacement cost will be in the thousands. It’s also known that the initial cost is substantially higher than a comparable ICE powered vehicle.

I don’t think anyone is under the impression that long term cost of ownership of a current EV will really be cheaper than of an ICE vehicle. But the hope is that if development continues it ultimately will be.

“I don’t think anyone is under the impression that long term cost of ownership of a current EV will really be cheaper than of an ICE vehicle.”

I was under that impression. If I were to invest in an EV, I would expect to come out ahead on fuel savings after I replace the battery pack, based alone on the efficiency of letting the power company generate my power instead of generating it on the fly.

You would think EVs would be most popular among xenophobic conservatives, who, you would think, would rather pay their local electric company for power than Hugo Chavez and tyrants in the middle east.

Whitey, you may have forgotten that I’m an advocate of EVs. But I don’t believe the overall cost of ownership is yet lower than an ICE powered car. Not for the long-haul.

Personally, I’d love nothing better than to own a Tesla Roadster for daily use. If I could only afford one.

Speaking of Tesla:

I know.

I’d still like a Tesla roadster. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you some other things I’d like that are downright immoral!

Where I live, the cost of electricity would be one half of that of gasoline for the same annual driving distance.

However, I would have to add the cost every 10 years of a \$3000 battery and other electronics that will likley have to be replaced.

Others might argue that the maintenance cost of an internal combustion engine and a transmission would offset that. The jury is still out on that one.

If time-of-day pricing for electricity was used and most commuters charged up overnight considerable saving are possible. Some European countries have a 30% discount for power used at night.

I agree that a comparison will be really difficult for some time until the performance levels are the same. For now, the EV can’t be used in the typical fashion as a traditional automobile. The extra cost in gasoline and the maintenance that goes with it also keeps you warm in the winter and provides a miriad of extras that EV is not yet ready to provide without compromising any legitimate comparison.

How long do you think it will take to have all electric EVs that tow, carry heavy loads, plow your driveway and provide range security ? I’m willing to accept their limited roll as a short range commuter car that will also extend the life of my other vehicles and lower my overall transportation cost. I 'll have trucks and continue to support Middle East oil for the forseeable future and no EV in the short time that I have left to live will change that…unfortunately. So for now, it’s apples and oranges and they provide a legitimate replacement for me commuting to the golf course just 12 miles from home with bag of clubs and me as the only passenger. That seems such a waste for an SUV. I just hope they become affordable enough to fulfill that role… and soon.

MB, I didn’t intend to direct that “xenophobic conservatives” comment at you.

I just crunched the numbers, and with the Nissan leaf, I estimate the “electric premium” (the additional cost of buying an electric car over a normal gas burner), is about \$10,000, and you’re right. The cost savings in fuel over six years would be less than the \$10,000 premium, even if the electric car gets 100 MPG and fuel stays at \$4/gallon. Throw in the cost of a replacement battery pack, and the financial analysis gets ever uglier.

A good way to make this comparison is to compare the new plug-in Prius to a normal Prius. Even with that comparison, when you factor in the extra \$8,400 you pay for the “plug-in premium,” you won’t come out ahead financially, even if the replacement battery pack were free.

It’s a shame. When I saw the commercial for the new Prius last night, I got excited that you can now buy one from the factory that you can plug-in. Unfortunately, the Prius is still a status symbol, but at least buying a plug-in version can give you the right to smugly say, “I buy my fuel from the power company instead of terrorists.”

Folks who question EVs are on the right path, concludes this study:

Turns out hybrids and plugin hybrids are a better overall solution.