# Cost per mile: Gas vs Electric cars?

First, I do NOT want a "here's the cost of the electricity used and here's the cost of gasoline used". I can find that on Google. What I want to know the ACTUAL overall cost per mile for the consumer over the expected life of the vehicle. This involves initial purchase price for similar vehicles, maintenance costs (oil changes, battery replacement, repairs etc.), fuel costs, current insurance estimates, potential government incentives...EVERYTHING.

My theory is that electric cars will not really catch on until this number convinces the consumer they can actually SAVE money by going electric. I'd take the time to research this myself, but I can honestly barely take the time to write the question right now...my curiosity however is killing me. Anyone up to the task? Or anyone know of a thorough report that addresses this? I have the feeling that the results will be surprisingly ridiculous in favor of gasoline cars at this point.

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• 9 years ago

It may be more useful to work backwards to determine what the break even price for an electric would be. \$ .17 per mile difference over 100,000 miles for fuel plus another \$.07 per mile for maintenance would mean that you could pay \$24,000 more for an electric vehicle for it to about equal the cost of the ICE vehicle without considering pollution, inflation, or interest. If the electric vehicle lasts 2X as long you might double this figure. Over its lifetime the electric vehicle is therefore at least likely to pay for itself and perhaps then some:

There are some on the web who are bold enough to suggest some overall costs and electric vehicles tend to come out at an expected 2 to 4 times cheaper than a gasoline vehicle. But you really need to examine their assumptions. But at just a ballpark guess "A 20 mpg gas car costs about 20 cents per mile, and an efficient electric car costs 3 cents per mile." But this is essentially fuel costs. http://www.evnut.com/fuel_cell.htm

- If a gas car that was worth \$18,000 could be purchased as an electric for \$25000 and the average yearly mileage was 10,000 and the residual value was 20% for both vehicles after 10 years then the vehicle cost per mile would be \$.14 for the gas vehicle and \$ .20 for the electric vehicle. (If the electric vehicle lasted twice as long this number would be 1/2 as much and the electric would be cheaper per mile.)

--Maintenance on the gas vehicle would be about \$652/year(2) = \$.07 per mile. Over 10 years this would be \$6520. While the current price of a battery pack may be slightly more than this, A. as a developing technology the cost is likely to be less in 10 years and B. this is a price to go forward and not a cost to the initial 100,000 miles like the oil changes and tune ups on a ICE vehicle. It would seem that you would have a hard time getting the electric vehicle up to be even 1/2 as expensive per mile as a similar gas vehicle.

---There are a tremendous number of variables due to location, types of vehicles, cost of electricity and insurance, highway taxes, roads, tolls, commutes which makes this type of analysis awkward to impossible. The first step in such a process would be some agreement on the numbers to be used:

--- But what are equal vehicles? Do you compare interior space, acceleration, range, fuel efficiency, size, price... some people would find some criteria more important than others and it is far easier to compare two similarly powered vehicles.

There is a common understanding that the maintenance and fuel for an electric vehicle will be cheaper. These are the operating costs. Pollution for a gasoline vehicle, even considering refineries and power plants will be at least 2 to 4 times that of an electric vehicle.1 An electric vehicle may last more than 2 to 4 times on average longer than a gasoline vehicle (experience with electric rail vs buses.) Currently government incentives exist for the purchase of electric vehicles and there are no highway taxes on fuel. HOV lanes are available in many places for electric vehicles. Against all these incentives the initial cost of the electric vehicle may be more than 25% more than a comparable gasoline vehicle. Or it may not be. And although these things are generally true they may not be true in your area or for your situation. And because the technology is changing rapidly the battery chemistry used today may be different in 2 years. The numbers you work out today will certainly be obsolete in 1 to 2 years.

Gasoline vehicles are presently far more available to purchase new and used than electric vehicles. There is some well established psychology that refutes your claim that price makes a difference in adoption of new technology. A few will buy at almost any price. Some will not buy with any incentive. In the middle price may be a factor if there is sufficient marketing and there are enough vehicles available. Currently manufacturers are not able to supply sufficient electric vehicles for the existing market demand. (The only currently available production electric car, the Nissan Leaf, is sold out until next year.)

There are other concerns as well. Some people wish to be free of the likely hood that fuel prices will rise beyond their means or a price that they want to pay. Others may want to be free of the guilt of adding to the pollution affecting the lungs of our children.

But if you would care to suggest other numbers I would run the analysis. Otherwise you may find some of the analysis I have already done entertaining and an informative basis for a more narrow question (that would not take a small book to adequately answer):

---To Trekd I would respond, try this, next time you do your laundry don't just put the clothes in and walk away. Wait at the machine for the one or two hours that it takes to clean your clothes. Absurd you say? Sure and so is comparing the time it takes to charge an electric car to the time it takes to fuel a gasoline car. You could charge the electric at home and be doing things you need to be doing while it is charging, like washing your clothes, cooking a meal, copying a movie to your Ipod... all things that take time but not 100% of your attention for the whole time. You might even spend quality time with the kids. The 10 minutes that it takes you to fuel your car is essentially wasted time, while the 2 to 3 hours it may take to charge an electric car will be planned time. If it were 10 minutes per week that is 87 hours of useless time over the life of the vehicle. (10 years.) The time spent driving to fueling and repair stations may easily triple this. Then we could consider the time spent in traffic when you could be zipping along in an HOV lane...

Source(s): 1 see "Sorry, Critics - Electric cars really are Greener:" http://dvice.com/archives/2009/07/shift-sorry-cri.... 2 http://www.bikesatwork.com/carfree/cost-of-car-own...
• 9 years ago

It also depends on what you value more and also what kind of gasoline car are you refering to? if your referring to a commuter car, guess what that new 2010 40,000dollar car is also a commuter car.

An electric car is expensive however people still buy very expensive gasoline car that cost more than electric car. In california alternative fuel gets to go to carpool lane so during rush hour you see these prius flying by. They are saving time which is valuable. However, alternative fuel if needed repair cost alot more money to repair than normal and their battery is a killer in price to replace. When you ask about gasoline car you gotta be more specific about which to compare.

The real question is, Do you drive enough for within 5 years to spend roughly 5k-7k (price of changing battery) on gas? If you do, electric would be more cost efficient.

• Trekd
Lv 5
9 years ago

Those numbers are hard to find because these car companies buried the data deep within their reports. If someone has the time and access to the real data, they can do what you ask.

The other thing you need to realize is this: How long will people wait to charge up their electric cars at charging stations (not at their house)?

The average time being reported will be 3 hours.

Try this test, next time you go to gas up your regular car, stay at that gas station for 3 hours before getting back on the road. What will happen is, you won't. No one wants to spend hours waiting for their car to charge. The technology needs to advance significantly before people are willing to take their electric cars on a trip.

Right now, all of the electric cars coming out have charging times ranging in hours, not minutes.

• 9 years ago

It really is a variable cost. You have to compare it to specific cars, and in specific cases.

However here are some rules of thumb:

Electric cars are currently more expensive to purchase.

However, in fuel costs they save an amazing amount.

They need their batteries changed every 5-10 years (depending on battery type).

However, they require much less maintainance than internal combustion engines. (much less moving parts).

Electric cars have a significantly extended lifetime compared to internal combustion engined cars.

But they are not useful for long distance trips (yet) due to inability to charge batteries. (adding cost for rental cars, etc.)

Because electric cars are new and expensive, they are probably harder to insure.

However, they receive government benefits like purchase subsidies or ability to drive in HOV lane.

Probably a good start away from oil right now is natural gas, but electric cars are probably the best mode of personal transportation.