Information Request

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Nissan Leaf via Thampapon /

I’ve decided to do another updated cost comparison post (or a few) of electric vehicles and comparable ICE vehicles. For one, I never conducted the comparison with the most competitive EVs on the market (I just used the Ford Focus Electric — first, versus the Ford Focus S, then versus the Ford Focus ST). Also, it was recently announced that the price of the Nissan Leaf was dropping several thousand dollars, so I think it would be interesting to see how that compares to the most similar ICE vehicle. And, last but not least, one trolling commenter had complaints about some of the assumptions that I used in the first post, or that I even put on readers to guess for themselves.

So, I’d like to tap our readers’ knowledge on a few things:

  1. I’d love your feedback on the gasoline-powered cars most similar to the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i, smart electric drive, Fiat 500e, and Honda Fit EV.
  2. I’d love to see the best estimates you’ve got for the price of EV batteries in 8 years (or the price of new batteries minus what you might get for turning in an old battery).
  3. And I’d love feedback on any other variables used here.

Of course, as before, I’ll be looking around to find what look like the best statistics and arguments for each of the above, but I’m sure some of you will come up with better sources and numbers than I’d find (and may already have them on the tips of your fingers).

With anything you provide, a logical argument for one choice or another is appreciated, but I’m most interested in good studies and facts, natch.

UPDATE (February 22 at 7:18pm EST): 

I’ve updated the initial cost comparison spreadsheet. A few notes:

  1. Maintenance costs were never calculated in the initial spreadsheet. There was a placeholder for them, but perhaps I decided to leave them out of the calculation due to uncertainty with the EV costs. (So, there was an initial benefit to the gasmobiles there.)
    A study on the difference in costs was recently published on this matter, so the maintenance costs are now based on that, and included in the calculation.
  2. Projected battery replacement costs are now included, based on 2020 battery cost projections by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. (They don’t really change much. In the initial comparison, the Ford Focus EV savings at 9 years go from $20,746 to $17,896. Not insignificant, but insignifiant when it comes to which car wins based on price alone.)
  3. I’ve added a list of my sources to the spreadsheet — on the far right.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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13 thoughts on “Information Request

  • You called?

    Nissan Leaf
    To my knowledge there is no equivalent… It’s halfway between the Nissan Juke and the Nissan Rouge in terms of space and utility with the S, SV and SL models matching in terms of interior quality and extras.

    Mitsubishi i
    There actually is a gas version of this same car – but it is not sold in the US. Your best bet for a comparable car is probably a Kia Rio-5 Door, but that’s a bit of a favor for the Mitsubishi I as nothing truly comparable is sold in the US. Please note that to be an actual fair comparison the MiEv has to have half of the options selected bringing the cost up about $1500 on the higher model.

    The Smart ForTwo
    Well, there’s actually two different Smart Electric Drives – one convertible and the other not. The convertible is most closely related to the passion-cabriolet model while the non convertible is split between the passion-coupe and the pure-coupe. I’d recommend comparing it to the pure-coupe as it give the gas version a slight edge. (better to give the gas version the edge just so EV detractors have nothing to work with.)

    Fiat 500e
    I would pick the 500 Sport to compare, but to be honest I don’t really know on this one.

    Honda Fit EV
    Well, that’d be the Honda Fit. Haha – the closest model is going to be your Fit Sport. While the EV shares more external features with the Basic Fit model (Mainly the tires), the interior features (which are more significant in terms of price) have much more in common with the Fit Sport with Navigation option, so the Honda Fit Sport is a fair compromise. (actually, again probably giving the advantage to the gasoline car, but arguably comparable)

  • Gas and electricity prices will change over the years. Building in an inflation factor will move the numbers more in favor of the EV. I’m guessing that electricity prices for charging will be less than the average price of electricity since charging would mostly happen off peak.

    Most people will finance a new car. With its higher purchase price this will disadvantage the EV.

    • While I do think gas prices will rise, I don’t see electricity prices increasing significantly.

      Gas prices will go up slightly because of increased global demand, but due to higher efficiency, US demand should decrease and offset a bit of this – so I think gas will be $3.70/gallon before taxes on average for the next decade. (Cheaper currently, higher later, average to that) The big kicker is we already have 80c/gal tax in some areas and that could increase significantly with any sort of a carbon tax – but that is very iffy. Basically that $4.50 is probably pretty accurate for most areas outside of the gulf coast where gasoline taxes are closer to 30c/gal.

      Electricity on the other hand will not rise significantly – the price of solar is already starting to compete with the national average for retail electricity so if retail electric prices go up more people will move to solar, simple as that. Also, as solar efficiencies improve, cost of solar will go down. As more people switch, the soft costs will also drop making it even more competitive. So again I’d agree with Zachary’s estimate of 12c/kwh.

      • I have to agree as wind and solar replace coal and the initial costs are amortized, electricity has a much better chance of remaining relatively price stable, or even dropping.

        Unless we get serious about producing oil from algae I don’t see how oil prices will do anything but escalate. We have past peak production, despite what the industry avers, so I don’t see fossil oil ever dropping in price with rising or even flat demand.

  • Nice work.

    But check cell c18. There is a typo in the formula. “=C4+(C13*A18)+(C9+A18)” should be “=C4+(C13*A18)+(C9*A18)”

  • One way to do this analysis is to quit thinking in MPG. No one wants gasoline. We want mobility. So do your calculations in MP$ Miles per Dollar. Efficiency is key to getting the most MP$. ICE cars are around 10% efficient in the real world of everyday driving. EVs are nearer to 90% efficient. Then plug the EV into your PV system and you have just bought a hedge against all future increases in the cost of your mobility. You are getting the energy for your mobility for free from the sunshine that fell on your roof yesterday. Once you do this you will never look at a spread sheet again to see if it makes economic sense to quit giving Exxon your money.

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