A new Consumer Reports study shows what many of us who have been driving electric vehicles (EVs) have already known—that consumers can save money with an electric vehicle over the lifetime of the vehicle. Last year, we published our own comparison of the total cost of ownership between EVs and comparable gas vehicles, using data from our EV shopping website, PlugStar. While EVs do sometimes have a higher MSRP than gas vehicles, the low cost of electricity and the very little maintenance required on an EV more than make up the difference. We found this to be true whether buying or leasing, for different types of vehicles (sedans, SUVs, and minivans), and in different cities across the country.
Fuel and maintenance savings
Consumer Reports found that the average EV owner who charges their vehicle at home saves an average of $800–1,000 a year versus buying gasoline. On average, charging your vehicle at home is equal to paying $1.21 per gallon of gas. Consumers also save $4,600 in maintenance over the lifetime of the vehicle, as EVs have fewer moving parts that can break or fail and don’t require regular oil changes. They also found that newer, long-range EVs are not depreciating as quickly as some gas-powered vehicles, although this varies, depending on the vehicle.
The tools on Plug In America’s PlugStar.com website allow you to compare the total costs of any EV with comparable gas vehicles. For example, while a Hyundai Kona Electric has a slightly higher sticker price than a gas-powered Hyundai Kona, the costs of gasoline and maintenance more than make up for that difference.
Likewise, a Chevy Bolt has a higher sticker price than a Chevy Impala, but the Bolt is less expensive to operate overall.
Visit PlugStar.com’s Compare Vehicles tool to calculate your own savings.
The price of EVs is dropping
The declining cost of EV batteries is also making vehicles more affordable for families. There are nearly 50 models of EVs currently available in the United States, with many of those below the median sales price for a new car ($38,723), including the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Kia Niro EV. Because it is becoming cheaper to produce batteries, Kelley Blue Book found that the average sales price of an EV dropped 2% from September 2019 to September 2020, while the average price for gas vehicles rose 2.5%. By the mid 2020s, the price of an EV is expected to be on par with comparable gas vehicles.
Electric vehicles are also becoming more affordable as more used EVs are entering the market. The majority of EVs have been leased to consumers, so many of these are now entering the used market. Many used EVs can now be found for $10,000–15,000, just a fraction of their original MSRP. The advantage to a used electric vehicle is that, with fewer moving parts, the primary concern is the health of the battery. If the battery on a used EV is healthy, you can purchase a vehicle that is like new for a very affordable price. Our Used EV Buyers’ Guide provides more information to help you find the best used EV for your family.
Valuable tax credits and other incentives
Financial incentives also make EVs affordable for families. The federal government provides a tax credit of up to $7,500 when purchasing a new EV and a tax credit for 30% of the cost to install EV charging equipment. Many states and utilities also offer additional rebates and incentives for purchasing an EV or charging equipment. Visit PlugStar’s incentives page or Plug In America’s incentives map to find incentives in your area.
Tell us how much you’ve saved by driving an EV in the comments below!