Comparing the total cost of ownership for EVs and gas cars
10.10.2019 - by Noah Barnes
Comparing the total cost of ownership for EVs and gas cars

A common misconception around electric vehicles is that they’re too expensive for average Americans. Here, we compare the true costs of driving an EV compared to gas cars.

Sticker price

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car in the United States in September 2019 was $37,590. As outlined in Plug In America’s Electric Vehicle Guide, 19 of the 40 electric vehicles on the market today have an MSRP less than $37,590. Of those, nine are all-electric and 10 are plug-in hybrids, so there are many cost-effective EV models available.

Incentives

These sticker prices don’t include the many tax credits, rebates, and other incentives that are available for electric vehicles. The federal EV tax credit of up to $7,500 can bring the price of many of those vehicles under $30,000, a significant savings for families. Additionally, many state and local governments and utilities offer additional incentives. Visit PlugStar.com and Plug In America’s incentives map to find incentives in your area.

Fuel costs

Generally, electricity rates are much lower and more stable than gas prices. Many EV drivers report that their fueling costs with electricity are just 1/4 to 1/3 of what their gas costs were. According to fueleconomy.gov, most all-electric vehicles have a fuel cost of approximately $50/month and most plug-in hybrids have a fuel cost of approximately $80/month. This compares to gas vehicles, which often have a fuel cost of $160 to $250/month. Switching from a gas car to an EV could save up to $200/month in fuel alone!

Examples

On PlugStar.com, our online EV shopping tool, you can compare the estimated total costs of driving an EV compared to a similar gas vehicle in your area, including net depreciation, fuel costs, maintenance, and insurance. We used these tools to show some comparisons.

Leasing an all-electric SUV in Portland, OR
Hyundai Kona Electric: $505/month
Hyundai Kona gas only: $580/month
Savings: $75/month

 

Leasing a plug-in hybrid sedan in Los Angeles, CA
Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: $552/month
Honda Accord Hybrid: $622/month
Savings: $70/month

 

Purchasing a plug-in hybrid minivan in Atlanta, GA
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: $540/month
Chrysler Pacifica gas only: $585/month
Savings: $45/month

 

Five-year loan on an all-electric hatchback in Boston, MA
Nissan LEAF: $451/month
Nissan Rogue Sport: $525/month
Savings: $74/month

 

Five-year loan on a plug-in hybrid crossover in St. Louis, MO
Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid: $459/month
Kia Niro gas only: $502/month
Savings: $43/month

Driving electric isn’t just good for going green, it can also help you save some green in your wallet!

To do your own comparisons and explore vehicles, incentives, and charging, visit PlugStar.com!

All prices are estimates and may vary. See PlugStar.com for details.

9 comments on “Comparing the total cost of ownership for EVs and gas cars”
  1. Perry Kravec says:

    I own a 2013 Chevy Volt and a 2013 Camry.

    I have kept detailed records of total cost for both cars.

    The Chevy Volt is by far a lot less to fuel and maintain than the Camry.
    About $1300 less per year than the Camry… and I spend far less time going to the gas station.
    If you assume 10 min to put gas in its about 83 hours less time in 7 years.

    Both cars have not had any problems.
    But the brakes and rotors and the battery on the Camry have had to be replaced.

    The brakes on the VOLT are still at 95%. costing nothing.

    The Volt by far is the cheapest car to maintain than I’ve ever owned… in 50 years.
    And… the Volt performance is much better. The 230hp electric drive with 274lbs of torque and not shifting is far superior… and quiet.

  2. STEVEN FISHER says:

    I was hoping to see a calculator–plug in how many miles you drive, your current costs, what you drive now, etc., then calculate savings based on the electric car you theoretically chose.

  3. Karen Wagner says:

    Hi I have an all electric Chevy Bolt. It is a great car to drive and costs me about $40 a month in electricity. I have had it over 2 years and so far the only maintenance I have had is $10 a year for inspection. I don’t have to take it in for a service until I have done 40,000 miles and I am thrilled to not be buying gasoline and having to change the oil and smell that disgusting fossil fuel fumes.

  4. Tommy Hersant says:

    Maintenance is a huge savings in and of itself. I have a Toyota RAV4-EV and Toyota has their regular schedule of service visits for my car too. But really, they do four things each time and charge me $38: 1) run a test of the electrical system (always fine), 2) visually check the levels of the battery coolants (quite visible under the hood), 3) rotate the tires, 4) be sure the driver’s side floor mat is on its pegs. Oh yes, I did have the biggest expense when at 90,000 miles they replaced the in-cabin air filter. And my battery range at 90K is still around 103 miles when fully charged.
    Our other car, the Tesla Model 3, has only one of these things to recurrently do; rotate the tires. No regularly scheduled maintenance of any kind at any regular mileage or date schedule. Again, none! So please subtract most of the maintenance costs from cost-of-use calculations.
    Also, I live in Carlsbad, CA and also had solar put in when I bought my RAV4-EV. Not only have I driven it at no charging cost but our utility, SDGE, gives me annual credit for owning an EV. In 2018 it was $500 and at my annual True-Up date they ended up owing me $723. This year they gave me a $850 credit for each EV, thus a total of $1,700. It is now mid October and they owe me over $900. Thus, I am making money!

  5. Ronald Sauve says:

    First of all, I want to say that I am all for electric cars. And I agree with your conclusions and numbers up to a point, however, . . .
    1. We have a 2016 Toyota Prius Eco, that we paid $23092 for in October 2016, and while we bought it via a Consumer Reports arrangement at a reduced cost, even if we had paid list during the current model year, it would still have been around $26000. That is significantly less than your median price of $37590.
    2. My income tax is far less than $7500, more like $1500, so the tax credit of $7500 has no benefit at all for us. If it was instead a rebate of $7500, then it would have some value for us, but a tax credit has none.
    3. Regarding fuel costs, we average about $50 a month, for both our Priuses, the 2016 that we get about 65 mpg counting winter mpg, and the 2007 that I use for remodeling work with a trailer, that we get over 40 mpg, being loaded with tools and towing the small trailer.
    4. Our electric rate is about 20 cents a kilowatt, so and electric car would still be less expensive than gas, but not enough to matter for us.
    5. From time to time, we visit our daughter in upstate NY, about 300 miles from us in Maine, and we also take other trips from 150 to 3-400 miles away. So having a vehicle with significantly more range than something like a Leaf or Bolt is necessary. The only car currently available a Tesla model 3 that could serve our needs is far out of our league, realistically running from $45000 to $60000 before unusable tax credits.
    6. The 2016 Prius runs a little over $1000 a year to register it. Anything else, even if we could afford the purchase price, would cost far more than that to register.
    7. For both of our current cars, we pay about $1025 a year to insure, including collision, liability, medical, towing, and so on, all the typically required coverages. We have clean records for tickets, accidents, and so on.

    Bottom line is that while I agree with your numbers up to a point, I don’t believe they consider all of the costs, like an actually more realistic upfront cost, registration, insurance, and perhaps more important, the costs that probably most of the population has to consider.
    While many can afford a car costing close to $40000, for much of the population, that is only a dream. I know it is for us, and most of the people we know. I would love to be able to afford an electric car, especially a Tesla model 3 extended range. But I also know that that is only a dream, a dream that we never will achieve. In our area here in Maine, only well to do or even rich people can afford one.. So, for us, a Prius is a much better deal, sad to say, much as I would love a Tesla model 3!

  6. Jeffrey Jones says:

    I have had solar on my house for 20 years (10 in CA and 10 in WA state). For 5 of those years, I have had a Nissan Leaf. I haven’t paid a penny for gas for 5 years now and 90% of my electricity is free! Solar DOES work anywhere in the country, so don’t think that you have to be in the southwest to install it. Credits for the EV and the solar helped with upfront costs, but I’d even take a loan in order to NOT line the pockets of the oil industry.

  7. Sandy Londe says:

    I’ve driven a Mitsubishi IMIEV for the last five years. Love it but has a small range. Really want the Hyundai Kona Electric or the KIA Soul electric. I live in Missouri. I can’t buy either one of them here. And if I buy it elsewhere and get it shipped here no dealer can service. Meanwhile Mitsubishi can no longer service my IMIEV. All the dealerships that service electric are gone. I wish the car companies would invest in Missouri. We are not all hicks!

  8. Dan says:

    The “Total Cost of Ownership” is a bit misleading. It you want to use “Total Cost” you have to also include maintenance and repair costs. While all electic cars don’t really have oil to change, etc. the out of warranty repair costs will be quite a surprise to the general public. In my case, for an out of warranty Chevy Volt, how about $6K to be able to charge the battery from the charge port again? The battery is perfectly fine…just can’t charge it. And because I have 150K miles on the car, its worth maybe $4K max…. and I’m going to put $6K into it? I don’t think so. SO now I drive it on basically gas only….. Keep in mind this was a mass produced car. Think of the “limited” production all electric cars made…the cost of out of warranty repairs will be much higher!

  9. Donald K Wise says:

    I live in Southern California and I have had a Ford Focus Electric since 2013. Due to the high cost of electricity here, I installed a solar electric system on my home in 2012. One of the best investments I have ever made. So, in 2013, when I acquired my electric car, I added a charging station to my home. Now, I am essentially driving fro free, insofar as it relates to the cost of electricity. This will not work in all areas of the country, but it works here.

    If you live in an area where you have this option, please consider it

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