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Update: Is Gas Cheaper Than Electric

As energy prices soar and gasoline approaches $8 per gallon in California, it may be cheaper than ever to switch to an EV!

The high price of gas is proving to be a thorn in the side of President Joe Biden’s administration these days, and that’s leading to more and more people talking about an “early” switch to EVs. Many people who are new to the EV discussion still think of an electric car as a luxury item, as opposed to a mainstream one — even so, as gas prices in California start to approach $8 per gallon, even the most staunch opponents of EVs are asking themselves, “Is gas cheaper than electric?”

The answer? Of course not! There is no place in the country that gas-powered cars are cheaper than EVs to own and operate — and the numbers have proven that out time and time and time again. Still, this 2020 piece by Johnna Crider did a better job than most of highlighting that fact by showing, state-by-state, how much new car buyers could save in fuel costs by choosing electric over gas. The difference is staggering, and is made only more impressive when you consider that gas prices have risen by a full dollar per gallon in the year since this interactive map, from Self Inc., was originally published!

Graph courtesy EIA.GOV

You don’t need to take my word for it, though, because there are no shortage of online cost comparisons to help you answer that “is gas cheaper than electric” for yourself. In addition to the one by Self, Austin Energy and Energy Sage both offer EV buyer guides that you can check out … just keep in mind that, you know, it’s hard for any of these sites to be able to keep up with how quickly gas prices are climbing!

As for those of you who have already received the EV message, I invite you to check out Johnna’s 2020 article, below, and see how well you think it’s stood up to the market changes of the last year or so. Enjoy!


By Johnna Crider, on October 23, 2020.

Is Gas Cheaper Than Electric? Cost Comparison By State for EVs vs. Gas Vehicles

Self Financial has shared a cost comparison of electric vehicles and ICE vehicles by state. The guide points out that many people often want to know how much an EV would cost when it is compared to gas alternatives. The guide considers several factors in the calculations, such as fuel, energy, mileage, insurance, EV incentives, taxes, registration fees, maintenance, and emissions tests.

Key Statistics

Some key statistics from the guide include their estimate for the average annual cost to run an EV in the US — $2,722. The average annual cost to run a gas vehicle in the US is $3,356. Oregon is the cheapest state to run an EV (annual cost of $1,810), while Michigan is the priciest state to run an EV ($4,276 annually.)

For gas vehicles, North Carolina is the cheapest state to operate one ($2,621 annually) as well as the second cheapest to operate an EV ($1,836 annually). California has the highest adoption of EVs in the US, but is the 7th highest state for the cost of an EV. Of course, California has a high cost of living in general.

The guide also analyzed the costs for the Tesla Model 3 and compared that with the cost of a premium gas-powered equivalent (BMW 3 Series). It noted that the BMW is $1,660 more expensive annually than the Tesla.

The “Is gas cheaper than electric” cost comparison guide has an interactive map which you can use to compare the costs in each state simply by hovering over that state. Looking at my home state, Louisiana, the cost of driving an EV for an entire year is shown at $3,500, while the cost of driving an ICE-powered gas vehicle the same number of miles is $4,148.

Price Comparison over 25 Years

The guide also looked at the costs of ownership over a period of 25 years. The three vehicles analyzed for this comparison were the Tesla Model 3 ($110,368), Toyota RAV 4 ($111,464), and BMW 3 Series ($151,880). These prices include the purchase prices of each vehicle split over the first 6 years.

EV incentives were factored into Self Financial’s calculations in the interactive map. The states that have incentives and/or discounts are as follows:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington.

Fuel Cost per Mile

In order to drive the annual milage of 13,474 miles, which was used on a state-by-state basis for how much the costs were per mile, 3,369 kilowatt-hours are needed for the drive. This would mean that an electric car’s cost per mile is just over $0.03. Self Financial’s gas car comparison cost was just over $0.06 — just looking at the fuel costs.

Insurance

Tesla Insurance

The guide found that the average insurance cost for an American EV driver was $1,674. Michigan led as the most expensive state, at $3,128, and North Carolina was the lowest priced, at $1,038.

The average cost for insurance for a gas car in the US is $1,232. Michigan also led as the most expensive state, at $2,032, and North Carolina as the cheapest, at $764. However, this comparison is basically pointless here, because the majority of electric vehicles are Teslas, which simply have higher prices than most ICE cars and there no new, sub-20K EVs like there are gas cars.

Maintenance Costs, Electric vs. Gas

Based on annual mileage of over 13,000 miles, the annual costs of maintenance for a Tesla Model 3 is estimated to be $190 annually. In comparison, the average annual cost of maintenance for the most popular gas car in the US, the Toyota Rav 4, is $964,60. That’s a difference of $774.60.

In the end, you can hover over individual states on the interactive map to see how the calculations broke down. Just remember that these are all averages full of assumptions.

 
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I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.

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