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Standard US gasoline pump — your 87 and 89 octane gas contains 10% ethanol. Photo by Fritz Hasler.


Electricity Prices Are Up, But An EV Is Still Much Cheaper Than A Conventional Car

There are some full fledged idiots running around loose these days who hate EVs and EV owners. One of our regular readers reports his Chevy Bolt was vandalized at the local watering hole where the jacked-up pickup crowd — people who suffer from an advanced case of smallcox — slashed his tires and put a dent in his fender. Lately, the knock on electric cars has been that while gas prices have shot up, so have electricity rates, particularly in Europe where unnatural gas from Russia powers many thermal generating stations.

CNBC decided to investigate. “While gas prices have soared in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, so have electricity prices — particularly in some parts of the U.S. that have been big markets for Tesla’s EVs,” it said. “So, is it still true that it’s much cheaper to ‘refuel’ an EV?” Then it crunched the numbers.

The EPA says the average new vehicle sold in the US in 2020 (the latest year for which information is available) had a combined fuel economy rating of 25.7 miles per gallon. Therefore, driving 100 miles in an average vehicle would use 3.9 gallons of gas. The EPA also says the average MPGe rating for 2022 model year EVs sold in the US is about 97. MPGe estimates how far an electric car can travel on 33.7 kWh of electricity — the amount deemed equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. Therefore, driving 100 miles in that hypothetical average electric vehicle would use 34.7 kWh of electricity.

The rest is simple. Calculate the cost of 3.9 gallons of gasoline and 34.7 kWh of electricity over time, then compare them to see which is cheaper. The result? Driving a conventional car 100 miles costs $14 for gasoline on average, but only a little over $5 using electricity. The data also shows the turbulent price of gasoline versus the relatively steady price of electricity. Even in San Francisco, where the cost of electricity is the high, the cost of “fuel” for an electric car is still about a third of an equivalent amount of gasoline.

CNBC says that although oil prices will probably fall in the coming months as producers increase output, “it’s unlikely that the price of electricity will rise enough to make EVs less affordable over their life cycles than internal combustion alternatives.”

Analyst David Kelley tells CNBC the total lifetime cost of ownership of an EV is about $4,700 less than that of an internal combustion vehicle. He says that cost difference is likely to increase as more EVs come to market and battery prices continue to fall over the next couple of years.

Writing in The Guardian this week, Torsten Bell, CEO of the Resolution Foundation, says the latest research shows higher electricity prices do convince some customers not to buy an EV, but higher gas prices are 4 to 6 times more likely to dissuade someone from buying a conventional car.  The reason is obvious. Higher prices at the pump are felt immediately every time a driver fills the tank, but people are only reminded of higher electricity prices once a month when the utility bill arrives. “So if you want a (small) silver lining to today’s catastrophic energy price surge, it’s that [high] pump prices should encourage more people to buy electric vehicles while [high] electricity prices won’t put them off much.” Bell writes.

The upshot of all this is, if you bought a gas pig that only gets 25.7 mpg thinking you had some constitutional right to cheap gasoline in perpetuity, that’s on you. Many people don’t even realize nearly two-thirds of the energy in a gallon of gasoline is wasted. Only about a third is ever put to work to move your car forward. How can anyone justify a process that wastes so much money? If you made a poor buying decision, why it that anybody’s problem but your own?

I saw a T-shirt recently that said, “If you voted for Biden, you owe me gas money.” Wrong. If you bought a gas guzzler, that’s on you. America and the world have no obligation to protect you from your own poor decisions. Still not convinced an EV will save you money? Consider this and be sure to check out CleanTechnica’s own total cost of ownership calculator.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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