We all know the main reason to switch to an electric car is to reduce our carbon footprint while we drive. Saving the planet is a worthy goal, but in order for millions of drivers to make the change to electric cars, doing so will have to cost less than driving conventional cars. Economics impact every decision human beings make. It’s just…..human nature.
The International Council on Clean Transportation studies the economics of electric cars. In its latest report, it says driving an electric car over a period of 6 years actually costs less than driving a conventional car in some American cities.
First, a few caveats. The ICCT study only goes through the end of 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. Since then, some important factors that are part of the ICCT’s calculations have changed significantly.
Atlanta, Georgia is listed by ICCT as one of the cities where driving an electric car makes the most economic sense. But that calculation is due in large part to the $5,000 state tax credit that Georgia once offered people who purchased an electric vehicle. That credit has been repealed, effective July 1, 2015. Also, gas prices, which were assumed to average nearly $3.50 a gallon for the study, have plummeted to around $2.00 a gallon today. The reader will need to make adjustments for those two factors when reviewing the ICCT report.
The ICCT made the following statement to go along with its findings. “Our recent paper on electric vehicle promotion activities in U.S. cities quantified various direct and indirect benefits of owning and operating BEVs. Since publishing that paper, we have continued analyzing the total operating costs of BEVs. One thing we’re finding is that, over a six-year period, a typical BEV requires about $5,000 less in fueling costs than a non-electric counterpart (i.e., charging from the grid versus filling up on gasoline).
“This valuation is based on a few key assumptions: typical BEV fuel economy (miles per gallon-of-gasoline equivalent) is more than three times greater than comparable gasoline models, and average 2014 fuel prices are 11 cents per kWh of electricity and $3.48 per gallon of gasoline. We are also finding that over the same timeframe, a typical BEV requires about $1,700 less in maintenance costs, largely due to the simplicity of electric powertrains.”
The ICCT report shows that those who drive electric cars in most US cities pay more on a per mile basis than those who drive conventional cars. But those who live in Denver, San Francisco, or Los Angeles can still drive electric and save money. As the price of electric and plug-in cars continues to fall, the number of places where driving an electric car costs less overall will only increase.