#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.


Published on June 7th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Fuel Costs of a Honda Fit EV: $0.03 to $0.04 per Mile?

June 7th, 2012 by  

Based on the fuel efficiency info just released for the Honda Fit EV, the new leader in the EPA’s fuel efficiency ratings, one of our readers did some quick calculations and came up with some interesting facts. I thought I’d quickly repost a few or these for more eyes to see, and also elaborate on them.

From Bob_Wallace: “kWh per mile for the Honda = 0.29. At $0.08/kWh that’s just slightly over 2 cents per mile.”

He then noted that a 50mpg gas-powered vehicle (aka ‘gasmobile’) would need $1.16/gallon of fuel to drive for so cheaply. I don’t think you can find that anywhere these days, do you?

Notably, not every place has electricity selling for $0.08/kWh. The average price of electricity for residential customers in the US is a little under $0.12/kWh these days (or about $0.0959 for all sectors combined).

But, even if you’re paying $0.12/kWh for electricity, you’d need gas to be at $1.74/gallon for a super fuel-efficient (by US standards) gas-powered car getting 50 mpg to be running for the same price.

However, the average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the US is actually far less than 50 mpg, it’s just approaching 24 mpg (May 2012). For such a car, you’d need gas to be selling for $0.8352/gallon to match the average fuel costs of a Honda Fit EV. Wow, good luck with that!

Now, I thought I’d run one more comparison while I was at it (yeah, this has turned into not such a quick repost). I thought I’d compare the Honda Fit EV to the most popular car on the roads these days, the Toyota Corolla. The Toyota Corolla has an average fuel economy rating of 29-30 mpg according to the EPA. Going with the slightly better 30 mpg, the car would still need gas to be $1.044/gallon to have the same fuel costs as the Honda Fit EV (running on electricity at the average US residential rate).

And imagine if that EV is actually getting its electricity super cheaply from solar panels!



As a wrap up, here’s a bullet-point comparison of some different options and possibilities:

  • Honda Fit EV on $0.08/kWh electricity =  $0.0232 per mile
  • Honda Fit EV on $0.12/kWh electricity =  $0.0348 per mile
  • Average US consumer vehicle (based on average cost of gas on May 28, $3.727/gallon) = $0.1553 per mile (4.5 to 6.7 times more than the options above)
  • 2012 Toyota Corolla, most popular car in the world last month (based on avg price of gas) = $0.12423 per mile (3.6 to 5.35 times more than the Honda Fit EV options above)

Which option would you choose?

Image: Honda

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Pingback: Zipcar will start carsharing Honda Fit EVs in San Francisco()

  • Pingback: Cross-Country Electric Bike Ride Completed by Electric-Bike-Loving Duo | Planetsave()

  • Tim

    Yes, this all sounds good on paper. However, after checking Honda’s web site, I find that the fit will run for an estimated 123 miles per charge. That’s good, but realistically I find that most manufacturers’ estimates are exaggerated compared to the real world. Still, even 100 miles on a charge is not too bad.

    One thing that I could not find was what its cruising speed is. At 100 miles per charge is would be fine for daily commute around town, but how about freeway speeds? Will it do 80 MPH (yes there are freeways in this country that allow 80 MPH, in fact, there is one proposed Freeway down in TX that is being proposed at 85MPH.

    It is real easy to say that it is still a good deal for that “around town commute”, but let’s be real, unless it can REPLACE a gas powered car then it is not realistic for most people. Not many can afford to have one car for driving inside a 50 mile radius and another one for driving outside that 50 mile radius.

    Personally, my desire is for a EV that has 100+ mile range per charge, can drive this distance at 70 MPH with heater/AC, radio, headlights, etc. all going at the same time. AND I want it to be able to trickle charge from a solar panel mounted on its hood/trunk/roof. Now, I have something that will cover most of my driving needs, will charge while it sits in the parking lot at work, and if I do something stupid and run out of “juice” without having an outlet available, all I have to do is sit in the sun for a while until I can limp into the next town.

    • Bob_Wallace

      How do you define “most”?

      Think about how many multi-car households there are in the US. And in how many of those households does no more than one car travel more than 100 miles on a given day.

      Think about all the people that just don’t drive long distances. Lots of folks jump on a train or plane rather than drive long distances. With rapid 80% charging a 100 mile EV has a 180 mile reasonable range.

      And how about people who hardly ever drive more than 100/180 miles and could do with renting a gasmobile once or twice a year – Thanksgiving at Granny’s type driving.

      I’m betting that if you add all those cars up you’d be over 50% of existing cars.

      Put the solar on your house roof. Get your employer to install outlets for charging in the parking lot. That’s a lot more efficient use of solar panels.

    • Will an electric car do 80 MPH? Darn right it will. The leaf does over 90 the i-mev is limited to 80 and the tesla is limited to 125. Note the words limited to. They could go faster if they didn’t have a built in top speed. An electric motor is much more powerful per kilogram than an internal combustion motor which makes it easy to give an electric car great performance.

  • To be fair, one would need to note that the Honda EV is more expensive to buy or lease than a gasoline car.

    And to answer the question which car makes more sense from a purely economic point of view, one would need to calculate how many miles of lower running costs are needed to offset the higher purchase cost.

    I would assume that it takes a couple of years any way, but it might add value to the post to try finding out.

    One might want to plug in 13,476 miles per year, which is reported as average by the American government (google “average miles driven per year”).

    For starters, $0.1553 (average gasoline car) minus $0.0232 Honda Fit on 8 cents per kWh would be an advantage of $0.1321 per mile. Multiply by 13,476 to get an advantage of $1,780.18 per year.

    The Federal Trade Commission reported $28,400 as average selling price of new cars in the United States in 2009. The Honda FIT will sell at $36,625, though it will be only available as a lease.

    • Bob_Wallace

      To finish your math, that a less than five year break-even with many years of savings to follow.

      However, I’m not sure but what the EVs on the market might be somewhat smaller than the average price new car. It might make more sense to compare prices with models close to the same size and equally appointed.

      Then there’s the issue of federal and state subsides. In some parts of the country the purchase price of an EV could be under $20k.

      I think the real takeaway here is that once battery prices drop, as they are expected to do, the low cost of driving an EV will move most of the market away from fossil fuel vehicles.

    • yeah, there’s plenty of room for a follow-up. it was around 2am here and i was just looking to do a simple repost at first, and had to stop somewhere 😀

      but think i’d like to do more of these sort of posts in the future. 😀

  • You have to add in another ~30% cost on an ICE for regular maintenance. EV’s have almost nothing to maintain; other than tires and wiper blades and such, which ICE cars do as well. Even brakes pads will last much longer on an EV because they have regenerative braking which uses the motor, and it puts some energy back into the battery.


    • I should have added that if you put PV panels on your roof with one of the $0 down plans, you can essentially drive for zero energy cost.

      If we can reduce the $1-1.5 BILLION per DAY we spend on imported oil here in the USA, just think how much better our economy would be if a a whole lot of us drove EV’s! We save a lot of military costs, too.


      • yeah, totally. i just tried to keep it conservative and simpler. but certainly!!

    • Bob_Wallace


      Not saying you’re wrong, but could you furnish some documentation. It would be a handy thing to have at hand.

      There is a long term cost that we haven’t included – battery pack replacement vs. engine rebuild.

      • You’re right it isn’t 30% — I did that math a while ago when gas was considerably less expensive, so the percentage for maintenance is less now.

        Do the math for 100K miles: fuel costs are average MPG (~22.5 in the USA?). So, 100,000 / 22.4 = 4,444 gallons X $3.729 = $16,573

        The maintenance I went with typical dealer costs for basic maintenance every 5K miles, intermediate every 15K, and full maintenance every 30K. The numbers I used was $75 for basic, $200 for intermediate, and $500 for full.

        That means there are 14 basic X $75 = $1,050
        3 intermediate X $200 = $600
        3 full X $500 = $1,500
        Total for maintenance = $3,150

        So, the cost of maintenance is a bit less than 20% roughly speaking, at today’s gasoline prices.

        Total cost to run an ICE car for 100K miles = $19,723.

        Remember as well that the oil and other waste materials add to the carbon footprint of driving an ICE; as does the increasingly difficult to find oil to make gasoline.

        Cost to run a Leaf the same 100K miles, using the EPA average of 340Wh/mile and off-peak charging around here of 8¢/kWh: 100,000 X 340 /1,000 = 34,000kWh X $0.08 = $2,720.

        Cost to run a Fit EV the same 100K miles, using the EPA average of 290Wh/mile and off-peak charging around here of 8¢/kWh: 100,000 X 290 /1,000 = 29,000kWh X $0.08 = $2,320; or $400 less than the Leaf.

        Since there is virtually $0 for maintenance on an EV that you don’t also have for an ICE, that means you save $17,003, which is much more than the cost of the Leaf battery *now*; let alone 8-12 years in the future.

        This means the Leaf actually costs you $35,200 to $37,250 – $7,500 = $27,700 to $29,750 – $17,003 = $10,697 to $12,747 for the first 100K miles! Drive it for another 100K miles, and you come out “ahead”.

        Sign up for $0 down solar PV panels to be installed on your house, and you pay about HALF of what you do now for electricity AND save that $2,720 as well.


        • bstringy

          I wish I could agree about the solar PV install. I’m in the process of getting a Fit EV and started getting quotes from solar installers in San Diego.

          Drive 1500 miles per month
          .29kWh per mile
          14.4 cents per kWh (SDGE night charging rate)

          Cost: $62.64/mo

          Current electricity usage without EV: ~440kWh/mo billed at regular tiered rate comes to about $65-70.

          Assuming I will spend $130/mo including EV charging, I’ve requested a few quotes. But with one in so far, I’m not sure I’ll find a solar installer with a $0 down lease which can produce 10,500kWh per year (875×12) that will come close to this monthly price. The first bid was $182/mo.

          At what price per month would it make sense to get into a $0 down lease commitment for 20 years if one spends $130/mo currently? Any feedback would be appreciated.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Don’t forget that inflation is going to grow that $130/mo. You might want to guesstimate what you would average over 20 years and use that as your break-even point rather than today’s price.

            I ran a quick spreadsheet using 3% and the 20 year average would be about $180.

          • bstringy

            Right, I found something earlier today stating SDGE rates increase at about 2-2.5% annually. Still, I have a hard time putting a price on the 20 year commitment. Does it make sense to pay more now, say $140 or $150/mo in order to recoup it when rates go up? I’m not inclined to do that. Even if I received a quote matching the $130, I’m still not. What would it cost to move, for example? I’m guessing that PV systems are better targeted at heavy tier 4 consumers who can get a full return in 5 years or less.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ll let you work out your “commitment point”. I’m an investor and I’d commit at $130 or something more when facing a $130 and rising utility bill. But that’s me and not you.

            But let me throw in one little thing.

            Would it make you feel ‘warm and fuzzy’ to know that you were generating all the electricity you use and helping with the CO2 problem? If so, that has value.

          • bstringy

            Going for the EV is a financial contribution toward the CO2 problem and right now, in my area at least, going solar is a little out of reach. Giving it more thought however, if I could lock in $130 now for 20 years, I would probably do it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Going for the EV is a financial contribution toward the CO2 problem and right now”

            Right, and good for you.

            Have you looked at the cost of ownership? Panels last a lot longer than 20 years. What happens after the 20 year lease is over?

            Installed solar seems to increase the resale value of houses beyond the cost of the system.

            I look at the way ownership/lease breaks down this way:

            Ownership cost = cost of system + financing cost.

            Leased cost = cost of system + financing cost + lease company profit.

            And, perhaps, add in the cost (loss) of residual value at the end of the lease. What happens to those still valuable panels/racks?

            The only way I see that leasing should get you a better monthly is if the lease company has access to lower rate financing and/or has managed to get their installation costs well below other installers.

            And, guessing here, if one decides to sell the house before the lease is up it would be a feature to say “The solar system is installed, working, eliminating your electricity bill, and paid off.”

            Leasing never feels right to me. Perhaps that’s because one of the companies I owned/operated made its money by owning stuff and leasing it to others.

          • bstringy

            The only reason leasing sounds attractive is the lower up front cost and assumption, perhaps naively, that solar technology will be fairly advanced in 20 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            More advanced in 20 years. That’s something interesting to contemplate.
            Looking at today’s system what could be improved? Panel efficiency is a possibility. Panels could (probably will) get more productive per square foot, converting more of the incoming sunshine to electricity. That would mean that panels could get smaller which would lower mounting/labor costs. But 20 year old panels would still be producing the power needed.

            Inverters are already about as efficient as one could hope for. Copper wire might be replaced with carbon fiber or some other yet to be invented material. It would still do the same job.

            I think one thing to appear is going to panels that are more integrated into roofs rather than being mounted on the roof. Panels becoming roofing. Perhaps with internal (attic space) fans for cooling to boost hot day performance. I can see entire south/east/west-facing roofs being solar panels wholesaling their output to utility companies.

            Of course, it’s easy to imagine that 10, 15 years from now we’ll look back and think “Wow, sure didn’t see that coming…”.

          • bstringy

            I’m thinking, $2k investment to power house and 2 cars. 🙂

          • bstringy

            8 months have gone by and I just ran across a Disqus notification pointing me back to this thread. For what it’s worth, I purchased a solar PV system a couple months ago and I’m very happy with it. Looking for a second EV now. Thanks for the input that helped me along!

          • Some things to consider (imho):

            From everything I’ve read, electricity rates are expected to go up much faster in the coming 20-30 years than in the last 20-30. 3% might still be a conservative rate to use.

            I’d think ownership would really giving you a much better return. But there’s obviously a reason why the huge majority of people go the lease route now — humans don’t like putting a lot of money down up front (or getting a loan of their own).

            If you’re considering moving in coming years, I think buying is also a benefit. It raises the value of your home and is easy to pass on with a higher price tag. With a lease, from what I understand, you’d have to get the new owners to take over the lease. With savings on one end of the lease more than the other, this can get complicated and could be a deal-breaker in many sales.

            I assume you have thought about this, but just in case: a lot of Volt drivers actually drive on gas a lot less than projected in MPGe ratings. You might want to consider how well you will do at just running on electricity, and the savings you’d land from powering that wil solar.

            Anyway, much more to consider. I actually envy you a bit in that (think that’s fun stuff), but understand it’s not easy. Hope my 2 cents is of some value! 😀

          • The $0 deals are typically not available any more. But very good deals still are – my brother is getting 26 panels (>6kW) for about $1500 down payment and a $58/month fee for twenty years. Their current electric bills run from a low of $80-90/month up to ~$170/month.

            They are already driving two EV’s, so they will pay a much lower electric bill and will drive for “free”.

            Oh, and even without the PV panels, they are each paying well under 3¢ / mile; in fact my brother’s i MiEV is only about 2¢ / mile.


          • bstringy

            What part of the country is your brother in?

          • He lives in Massachusetts.

    • good points. could do an update with fuel AND maintenance costs. however, would be harder to determine an average, i think.. but maybe that exists somewhere?

  • Bob_Wallace

    I typically use 8 cents per kWh because I assume most people will charge off-peak when prices are down. And I assume most markets will go to TOU billing.

    But even using “expensive” electricity gasmobiles can’t touch EVs.

    Suppose you paid 20 cents per kWh. Add in 10% for power lost during battery charging. That gets you to 6.4 cents per mile for the Honda FT.

    You’d need to find $1.91/gallon gas for your Toyota Corolla.

    You’d need to find $$3.20/gallon gas for a 50mpg hybrid.

    And those costs don’t include oil/filter changes, higher maintenance costs, and more frequent brake rebuilds for the gasgoobers.

    • great additional comments.

      on the price of electricity: yeah, i figured that’s why, i just decided to be a little more conservative for the post and just go with the avg. (also, as an aside, did you know the avg price of electricity in Hawaii is $0.39/kWh! wow. i think i ran across that before, but pretty shocking.)

      • Bob_Wallace

        Just checked – regular gas in Honolulu – cheapest $4.19/gallon, one station only. Most stations are $4.29.

        $4.19/gallon with a Corolla = 13.9/mile.

        $0.39/kWh with a 0.29kWh/mile EV = 11.3/mile.

        Put some panels on your danged roof and escape that foolishness….

      • bstringy

        As an added stat, I’ve tracked my Fit EV usage very closely the first 5 months and have averaged 4.16 miles/kWh (0.24 kWh/mi) and at 14 cents/kWh in San Diego (super off peak), my cost per mile has been 3.32 cents per mile.

Back to Top ↑