How much money does driving an electric car save you?

While owners, manufacturers, and politicians primarily focus on their environmental benefits, electric cars also come with significant financial benefits.

In the United States electricity is cheaper than gasoline, so avoiding the pump keeps cash in drivers’ wallets. But how much can electric car drivers save?

In a recent blog post, electric car advocacy group Plug-In America determined that the average driver could save around $1,600 per year in fuel costs.

The calculations assumed an average energy consumption for electric cars of 30 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles driven, which also happens to be the EPA-rated figure for the Nissan LEAF.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute measures sales-weighted average fuel economy for new cars every year and the figure for 2013 was 24.8 mpg. The average gas price was assumed to be $3.53.

Assuming 15,000 miles driven per year, Plug-In America came up with an an annual fuel cost of $2,135. However, with an estimated average electricity rate of 12 cents per kWh, it pegged the annual electric car energy cost at just $540, meaning drivers could save $1,595 per year.

Electricity rates vary throughout the country, but Plug-In America noted that it would have to be significantly more expensive than the assumed average for charging an electric car to cost as much as fueling a gasoline one.

In addition, Plug-In America notes that electricity rates are more stable than gas prices, because they’re not tied to slowdowns in production or political issues in oil-producing countries.

Electric cars can save money in other ways as well. Electric powertrains are fairly simple, and require less maintenance. You’ll never need to have an oil change as the only consumables are tyres and brake pads.

Finally, while most electric cars do carry a price premium over comparable internal combustion models there are still several Federal, state, and local incentive programs that could help recoup some of the purchase price.

However, every potential electric-car owner should do his or her own math, considering their own electricity rates, annual mileage, and the incentives available in their area, as potential savings can differ depending on these individual variables.