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Published on January 11th, 2019 | by Erika Clugston


Crunching The Numbers: How Much Will Your Electric Car Really Cost?

January 11th, 2019 by  

Okay, so you want to buy an electric car. But how much will it really cost you? The question is reminiscent of those classic, school-era math questions: If you’re driving 75 miles per hour for 100 miles, how much will your electric car cost you? In order to spare you the headache, we’ve figured it out for you.

nextmove, Germany’s leading electric car rental company, recently put together a range test with five electric vehicles to compare consumption on the autobahn. We took the resulting data from their test drive, researched electricity prices, and crunched a few numbers to figure out just how much these cars can really cost.

The nextmove team chose five EVs for comparison: the Hyundai IONIQ, Tesla Model 3 (Long Range, Rear Wheel Drive), Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf II with a 40 kWh battery, and Renault Zoe ZE40. Together, they drove all five cars on the autobahn, doing their best to keep to the same driving conditions.

Table 1: Driving Conditions

Of course this was not an exact science, but the results of the test drive are still compelling: the Hyundai IONIQ took first place, with the Tesla Model 3 just behind it in second place.

The visual above shows the results of the test drive, with the efficiency rates calculated out of 100km. We factored it into miles in the table below.

Table 2: Consumption Rates (via nextmove)

Stefan Moeller, General Manager of nextmove, commented on the results, telling CleanTechnica: “With a drag coefficient of 0.24 the Hyundai IONIQ is currently the efficiency champion on the road. The Tesla Model 3 has a drag coefficient of only 0.23 but weighs 200 kg more, has higher power and comes with larger wheels. The Hyundai Kona was a nice surprise. Although it is a compact SUV, it showed a relatively low consumption rate.”

Okay, so now we know a bit about these five cars and their efficiency, but ultimately we want to know how this translates into cost. And naturally, that depends on where you live and the local electricity prices.

Table 3: International Residential Electricity Prices Per kWh in 2018

Of course, when looking at electricity prices in the United States it varies from state to state. For the sake of brevity, let’s just take note of the top three EV states: California, Washington, and Hawaii, where the prices are respectively 15.73, 9.68, and 32.46 US cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s quite a price range — with Hawaiians paying the highest electricity rates in the United States.

With electricity prices for 2018 in hand, we can then figure out approximately how much it would cost to drive a Tesla Model 3 in Germany versus the United States, or the cost of a Hyundai IONIQ versus Hyundai Kona in France.

Table 4: Cost Per 100 Kilometers in EUR (Consumption Rate X Price of Electricity)

Table 4: Cost Per 100 Miles in EUR (Consumption Rate X Price of Electricity)

Clearly, the cost of an electric car is dependent on the price and source of your electricity. Living in Germany or Belgium will have a greater impact on your wallet than in the Netherlands or USA, where electricity is much more affordable.

Stefan Moeller adds, “Given the relatively high electricity rates in Germany, there is a clear trend among house owners to invest in residential photovoltaic (PV) systems for self-consumption. Nowadays, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for newly installed PV systems are around 0.10 EUR/kWh, so approximately one third of the grid price. The combination of PV and EV is a real dream team with cost that can be as low as 1.50 EUR per 100 km. A carefully driven gasoline car consumes about 5 litres at 120 km/h, which costs 7.00 EUR at German petrol prices of 1.40 EUR per litre. At the same time fossil fuel prices are notoriously rising, so the economics for driving on sunshine are getting even more attractive going forward.”

As for the future: electricity prices will fluctuate, EVs will become more efficient, and energy sources can — and hopefully will — become more renewable. Here’s to driving on sunshine! 


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About the Author

Erika is a writer and artist based in Berlin. She is passionate about sharing stories of climate change and cleantech initiatives worldwide. Whether it’s transforming the fashion, food, or engineering industries, there’s an opportunity and responsibility for us all to do better. In addition to contributing to CleanTechnica, Erika is the Web and Social Media Editor at LOLA Magazine and writes regularly about art and culture.

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