With high gas prices, is an electric vehicle or a gas-powered car more affordable?
According to AAA Colorado, gasoline prices approached $5 a gallon last week. So it’s time to break down what it would cost the average person to run an electric vehicle for a year versus a traditional car at sky-high fuel prices. With the help of Matt Frommer, a transportation analyst and spreadsheet fanatic from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, the Colorado Auto Dealers Association, the AAA, and others, here’s a quick guide with five comparisons:
Electric Vehicle Fuel Cost Compared to Gasoline
Driving 11,000 to 12,000 miles a year in a compact electric vehicle, like the Nissan Leaf, costs about $470 in electricity when the car is charged primarily at home using a standard 120V wall outlet. Frommer says 90% of his charges over the past year have been at home; the prices of public fast chargers are higher, but they are obviously practical and necessary for long road trips or spontaneous getaways.
Driving the same number of miles in a gas-powered car with an average fuel economy of 25.7 mpg at $5 a gallon would cost $2,212, Frommer calculates. His numbers echo in a Chevy dealer’s calculations for a Chevy Bolt EVsimilar in cost and performance to a Nissan.
Cost per gallon equivalent
All-inclusive with the EV, Frommer concludes, he paid the equivalent of $1.07 a gallon for EV “fuel,” an 80% discount from current gas prices.
And the first years of owning an electric vehicle are usually without repair or maintenance. No $80 oil change required. The most expensive thing EV owners tend to do is rotate their tires, at $30-$50.
Depending on which part of Colorado you are in and which utility provides you with electricity, your equivalent gallon cost will vary. Prices per kilowatt hour from place to place can vary by double digits. Be aware of time-of-use pricing that Xcel is now using with over 300,000 people who have installed smart meters: plugging in after 7 p.m. at night costs 10 cents per kilowatt hour, while doing so at 4 p.m. h on weekdays. peak costs 27 cents per kilowatt hour. Example from the real world? Frommer calculates that he spends the equivalent of 78 cents per gallon at more expensive fast-charging stations, but only 61 cents per gallon at home on Xcel off-peak charging.
Again, gas prices can also vary widely across the state, so keep that in mind.
You can find comparable fuel economy for various electric vehicles from the federal government heretaking into account the different electrical consumption of the motors of each model on the market.
Costs of buying a new electric vehicle compared to a new gas-powered car
Electric vehicles are undoubtedly cheaper to run the second they stand out, but often cost up to $10,000 more to purchase than a comparable petrol model, even after government incentives.
All new car purchases seem incredibly expensive to many buyers these days, but buying an electric vehicle can add to your sticker shock. Hot but hard-to-get Rivian Trucks are out of stock at over $90,000. Hummer just added $6,000 to its already $100,000 electric muscle model, notes Colorado Automobile Dealers Association CEO Tim Jackson.
Chevy just announced a price drop on a very reliable and overlooked EV sedan called the Bolt, which costs over $26,000. Nissan also keeps the Leaf in this price range.
The electric vehicle market is getting more confusing as government tax credits are no longer available on all models. The federal tax credit, which can be up to $7,500 for an electric vehicle, does not apply once a manufacturer sells 200,000 units, so Tesla and the Chevy Bolt are now sold out, others approaching the ceiling. Also, you may only qualify for the full $7,500 if your federal income tax in a given year is so high — it’s not a “refundable” tax credit. .
At the state level, Colorado’s electric vehicle tax credit is now $2,500, dropping to $2,000 on January 1.
Prices for new gas-powered cars are also on the rise, albeit at a slightly lower inflation rate than for electric vehicles. The average total price in May was $47,148, up more than 13% from a year earlier, Kelley Blue Book said.. This is the second highest monthly average on record, they added.
Which cars are actually on the lot?
In other words, could you get one even if you wanted one?
You will probably have to wait. Here’s an example: Nissan dealerships across the Rocky Mountain region sold less than 200 Nissan Leafs in the first quarter. Each of those dealers could have sold 200 on their own, had they been able to get them, CADA’s Jackson said.
Microchip production and other supply chain issues continue to plague car manufacturing and delivery, Jackson said, for all engine types. Toyota dealers at CADA talk about the difference between now, with gasoline at a shocking $5, and the months of 2008 when gasoline hit a then-shocking high of over $4 a gallon. In 2008, the hybrid Toyota Prius was relatively new and popular, and when inflation-weary consumers flocked to it, Toyota ramped up production to meet demand. Now, Jackson said, no one can really ramp up production or delivery of anything.
“We don’t have the same comparison, because we’ve run out of everything. Our grounds are empty,” he said.
Many gas-powered car models are also rare in Colorado, according to dealerships. The difference being that, with gasoline engines still powering 85-90% of all new car sales, there are more comparable choices to try if your favorite model is out of stock.
Other details to know
Conservationists want you to know that there are other alternatives, if $5 gas is really getting you down and a new electric vehicle isn’t within reach. They mention improved bike lanes and dedicated paths in many Colorado towns. In the Denver metro area, RTD plans to implement a bus vacation proposal in August that would make all rides free, paid for with an infusion of the Colorado legislature.
Used car prices are “very hot” right now, Frommer notes, which is bad if you’re buying, but great if you’re selling. He suggests taking advantage of these high prices to sell car transport altogether and replace it with a combination of telecommuting, cycling, walking and public transport. Denver is preparing to reopen applications for substantial e-bike rebates, and the state is working out the details of its own e-bike rebate plan.
“I think it’s going to be a really interesting year for transportation,” Frommer said.