Published on November 1st, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


Benefits Of Electric Cars Are Not Just Fuel Savings

November 1st, 2012 by  

The benefits of electric cars are not just economical and environmental. They offer convenience benefits as well.

Nissan has created an advertisement for its Leaf vehicle which, for example, highlights the convenience of charging in your own home. Check it out, and then check out the article below for more on the benefits of electric vehicles:

Convenience of Charging

Despite the fact that typical electric cars take hours to charge, which complicates the process of recharging in public, electric cars are the only cars that can easily be charged at home overnight without stopping at any gas stations to fill up, and without buying any additional equipment.

Everything you need to charge in the comfort of your own home is built into the car.

If your office allows you to charge your car, you can get your full range back even before you make your second trip home. This is another convenience benefit. You can safely leave it to charge

You might end up running out of “fuel” less often than a gasoline-powered car driver if you plan your trips accordingly: An important fact is that people with gasoline-powered cars wait until they are almost out of gas to to refill, partly because they don’t want to sit at a gas station. So if you have an electric car, congratulations on being able to effortlessly enjoy your full range every single day.


You Can Avoid Becoming Stranded Altogether

The secret to preventing stranding altogether is to first determine the length of your average daily commute, which is likely to be less than 40 miles. You would then choose a car which offers a driving range which is considerably more than that. For example, if you drive 40 miles daily, a Nissan Leaf could work.

Whenever you need to make an unusual trip, use Google Maps (Click “Get Directions”) to determine the distance of the different routes.

Electric Cars Can Back Up Wind and Solar Power Plants

Electric vehicles and wind farms complement each other especially nicely. This is because electric cars contain large energy storage systems known as batteries.

They store upwards of 24 kWh (24,000 Watt-hours) of energy, which is actually enough to supply a house with up to 1,000 watts of power for 24 hours continuously (however, the average house in the United States draws an average of 3 kW).

When wind farm wind speeds increase, and the turbines generate more electricity, the cost of wind power drops for that moment, and electric cars can take advantage of that low-cost (even 3 cents per kWh) power and capture it with their batteries.

You could actually drive your car at a cost of 3 cents per kWh just because of a stormy day!

Furthermore, wind power is most abundant at night, helping to make electricity cheapest at night in many places, when you are most likely to charge your EV.

Cost and Range

If you experience difficulty getting through the complicated and technical work of understanding the cost difference between electric and gasoline-powered cars, as well as the controversial range issue, see if this example of 40 miles a day is helpful:

If driving 40 miles per day for all 30 days of the month, it would add up to 1,200 miles per month, and it would cost a 25 MPG gasoline-powered car driver $192 per month, assuming a gasoline cost of $4 per gallon.

The Nissan Leaf, however, would cost $36 per month to make those same trips, assuming an average electricity cost of $0.10 per kWh. The Nissan Leaf is equipped with a 24 kWh battery bank. After driving 40 miles in this vehicle, you would have a range of 33 miles remaining for the rest of the day.

What is most relevant to you, however, is your electricity cost. Multiply it by 360 (this is 360 kWh, the amount of electricity the Nissan Leaf would require to drive 40 miles per day for a 30 day month).

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • WalkaWalka

    Anybody consider the 25 kilowatts of power added to your daily house electricity bill? 25 kW .. 80 miles? so maybe 10 kW a day would be like 30 miles which is probably closer to normal average for a month. that’s still like triples your monthly electric bill…from what 100 bucks to 300. so your gas costs 200 a month times 12 = 2400 a year. That’s about the same price as gas so really, you save nothing on gas …..unless you recharge at work everyday :O . You can make other people pay for your gas without knowing it.

  • tibi stibi

    in holland it averages to 3.000 Kwh per year.
    my friend used to have 4.000 Kwh per year than i turned off her extra old fridge and the electric floor heating in the shower and now its below 3.000 Kwh!

    • good on you. 😀 we should just send people around door-to-door to do that kind of thing. 😀

  • dynamo.joe

    So, if humans were rational actors they would all choose electric cars?

    Well that’s fantastic! Market penetration for EV’s ought to top out at less than 1% anyday now.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, about 50% should be choosing an EV.

      Live in a household in which one or more cars never goes more than 75 miles a day? An EV like the Leaf would be cheaper to drive.

      Have a normal commute day of ~40 miles or less but need to drive longer distances at times? Another large percent of drivers could save money with a Volt.

      Are EVs establishing themselves slowly in the market? Yes, but if you consider that they are selling faster than hybrids did when they first appeared and that we are coming out of the worst economic crash since the Great Depression I’d say they’re doing OK.

      Now that GM, Ford and Nissan are offering good lease programs I think we’re going to see some acceleration in sales. A lot of people are more likely to give an EV/PHEV a try if they don’t feel locked in by a purchase. Get more on the road so that word of mouth can do some selling and we’ll get on past that 1% before long.

      Nissan and Ford are offering $199/month leases. If you’re an average 36 mile per day driver who is fueling the typical 25 MPG gasmobile you’re paying a bit over $170/month for gas. Throw in some more for oil changes and maintenance.

      You could park your gasmobile and use it for the occasional long trip and pay for an EV lease with the savings. Or you could sell your gasmobile and drive a new EV.

      • dynamo.joe

        My point was more along the lines of people are idiots, rather than EV’s aren’t a solution.

        My father is a college graduate and I would guess an IQ somewhere in the 120-130 range can’t seem to wrap his head around the idea that the Volt is an electric car with a gas tank. He is also 71, so maybe he just doen’t like change. There is also the strong possibility that he is just yanking my chain.

        Again, my point vis-a-vis the above article is you can’t use logic to persuade people because they are immune to it.

  • Scott Wilson

    Not to mention that an EV can be a convenient emergency backup power source for vital appliances, such as refrigerators, during power outages. Several members of the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington DC have begun to attach power inverters to their traction batteries, via the 12V battery. In my case, I turn the Leaf on, and I can run my full-size fridge for up to 4 days. See for details.

  • globi

    An average American household doesn’t use 26280 kWh per year.

    A 4 person household in Germany uses 3500 kWh per year and an efficient household less than 2000 kWh per year or about 5 kWh per day. If one has a PV system on the roof, 2 kWh to cover the electricity demand at night should be sufficient in an efficient household.

    • Bob_Wallace

      In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh, an average of 958 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 16,716 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.

      11,496 kWh per year = 31.5 kWh per day. Germans use 1/6th as much electricity as Americans?

      • freedomev

        ———-Only a very wasteful home would use so much power. Maybe if people stopped building 2000sq’ homes for 2 people they would use less.

        ——–I only use 4-10kwhrs/day and average about 7kwhrs/day for my home, business and charging my EV’s. My electric bill is only $20-$44/month with the high in heating and cooling season. This month likely be $20-22. So low I just got my deposit back of $150 which should take me through the winter without another bill to pay.

        ———-1kw/hr was US standard only 10 yrs ago. Could your numbers include business use?
        ———- Great posts on EV’s mostly here. The reason EV’s are not going faster is the near depression that killed the economy and gas prices. As the economy recovers gas prices too will rise until it kills the economy like 5 of the last 6 recessions it caused..

        • Bob_Wallace

          As I said, my numbers were for residential usage.


          US per capita electricity usage

          2001 – 12,407.4 kWhs
          2011 – 11,919.8 kWhs

          So far in 2012 US electricity usage (per capita) has been the lowest of any year this century.

          Have no idea where you got that “1kw/hr was US standard only 10 yrs ago” claim.


          The recession of 2001 was caused by irrational exuberance in high tech.

          The recession of 2008 was caused by irrational exuberance in the housing market.

          I don’t think your “5 of the last 6” holds.

          • freedomev

            ——Thanks for the corrections Bob. 1kw/hr was what most said then but I never checked it out. I’ve always used far less than that.
            ——There was no recession in 2001, just a bubble correction of distorted value in the tech sector of paper millionaires.
            ——–On the 2008 one oil prices was the final straw of many especially loan scams/housing prices, CDSwaps. I wasn’t including that one.

          • freedomev

            Looking at your source that includes industrial, business, etc electricity too it seems. I was talking about home use/house. Can you find a source for that?
            Per capita means how much US uses per person for all US uses, not a house normally.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The US experienced a recession from March 2001 to November 2001.

            The 2008 recession was caused by the collapse of the housing bubble.

            I’m getting a bit tired of your made up facts.

          • freedomev

            ——-,Yes technically it was but it was a paper recession not real value lost. More of a slight correction of the tech bubble.

            ——Like most recessions, 2008 had many causes. If Obama hadn’t pulled us out it would have been a worldwide depression and might still if either Romney wins or repubs in congress don’t start doing their job.

            ——–I’d put up a URL but these blogs don’t like them.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A recession is a recession. Some are more severe than others, some are longer lasting than others. The bottom line here is that your claim that high oil prices caused 5 of the last 6 recessions was incorrect.

            When I saw your ridiculous claim about household electricity usage 10 years ago I grabbed what was convenient, per capita electricity usage. If you want a better estimate of residential usage then multiply the number I gave you by 2.3 or whatever the average number of people per household was at the time. It just makes your claim more incorrect.

          • freedomev

            ———-Actually we are both about right though you are off by 2.3x’s in your last quote.. Here is the data,

            The 2001 figure of 10656 kWh per household per year comes out to 1.2 kW of continuous power drawn per household, or about 30 kWh per day.

            A more recent report here:
            quotes an average of 936 kWh per household per month, which equates to 31 kWh per day or 1.3 kW of continuous power. This corresponds to having thirteen 100W light bulbs on 24 hours a day.

            ——– So as you can see I was near right as were you though your source didn’t write it correctly saying per capita instead of per household. Plus I’m not use to yrly numbers.
            ——- So I admit I was somewhat wrong by 20%, can you admit you wrote/quoted it wrong and then was wrong again by 2.3x’s? Can’t we just be friends? ;^P

          • Bob_Wallace

            The Index Mundi source I cited earlier seems to be reporting an overall electricity used/population number. That would lump commercial, industrial and transportation use in with residential.

            The ~2.3x would be a way to convert that number into a household number, but it would be fairly meaningless. (2.59 for 2010 is a more accurate number.)

            I was thrown off by your “1kw/hr was US standard only 10 yrs ago”. I assumed that was a typo and you were trying to claim 1 kWh/day which would have been way off base. You seemed to be claiming 24 kWh/day in 2002. That’s not too far off from the 30.4 kWh/day from your DOE link.

      • globi

        Apparently, German households without electric heating used 3162 kWh per year:
        I don’t live in Germany but my household is at 300 kWh per year and person (including electric stove, fridge/freezer, washing machine, dish washer, computer, wifi and what not).
        Granted, we don’t use electricity for heating and hot-water and we don’t have air conditioning and we do have very efficient appliances.

        • Bob_Wallace

          300 kWh per person per year?

          How many people share the refer/etc.?

          I’m off the grid and I don’t know how much power I use, my metering system doesn’t record watts used. I do know that my fairly efficient refer pulls about 900 watts per day which would about 330 kWh per year.

          • globi
          • Bob_Wallace

            It doesn’t look like Siemens sells this model in the US. At ~10 cu ft most Americans would consider it too small. I used a 9 cu ft refer for several years and it was cramped. Especially if I wanted to limit my trips to the grocery store and stock more than a week worth of food. It might be fine for someone who walked past a market multiple times a week.

            Siemens sells a 17 cu ft here which is slightly smaller than what I am currently using. They list it at 450 kWh/yr which is quite a bit higher usage than my current refer.

          • globi

            I grocery shop about once a week.

            Even if one desires a larger fridge: If one uses an efficient well insulated fridge, one can connect it to a timer, set it to a low temperature and thus make sure that it mostly runs during day time when there’s plenty of power from the roof, so one needs less battery-power at night.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I ran the numbers with the highly insulated refers such as Sun Frost. Back even ten years ago when panels were a lot more expensive it made more sense to install more panels and save on purchasing a more “normally priced” refer.

            In the winter I sometimes shop once a month. I shop more often during good weather mainly because I need building or gardening supplies.

            Everyone’s mileage varies…

          • globi

            Our efficient fridge cost about 10% more than another inefficient model. Efficiency doesn’t need to be expensive. Thanks to the internet you can easily compare electricity consumption and price of different models. And an conventional fridge can also be set such that it uses more electricity during day time and less at night. It’s not the costs of the solar panels, it’s the cost of the additional battery power you need at night.
            Anyway, the point is: Even if our household was using ten times (1000% !) more electricity than we are using now our average power demand was still only 0.68 kW and not 3 kW.
            Keep also in mind that even Americans have to sleep at night.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think you miss the point. There are no super efficient refers available at “10%” more in the US.

            Battery power at night is not an issue.

          • globi

            Just 2.
            Not sure what you mean by refer.
            But this freezer/fridge combo is at 139 kWh/year:

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