Quantcast
Renewable Energy
Plug-in electric cars, Honda Fit EV and Ford C-Max Energi at a public charging station in front of San Francisco City Hall. Mariordo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Going From Pump to Plug: How Much Money Can Electric Vehicles Save Drivers?

What would you do with an extra $770 a year? Buy a new laptop? Pay off debt? The Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed how much money many drivers could save by switching from a gasoline-powered car to an electric vehicle.

We analyzed the cost of refueling electric and gasoline vehicles in each of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. In every city, there is a rate plan that would save the average EV owner on fuel costs, with a median savings of more than $770 per year.


Average savings in your city

EVs are becoming more affordable to purchase, especially after federal and state incentives are applied. However, barriers remain. The future of the federal income tax credit for EVs is in doubt and policies are needed to ensure that all drivers have the ability to choose an EV. This includes improving charging infrastructure and ensuring access to cost-competitive electric rates for recharging.

We make recommendations for EV drivers to maximize savings; and for policy-makers, electricity providers and automakers to advance policy that promotes EV adoption, and broadens access to charging infrastructure.

Findings

  • The annual savings range from $440 to over $1,070 per year, depending on the electricity provider, the choice of electricity rate plan, and the local cost of gasoline.
  • Many electricity companies offer affordable off-peak, time-of-use plans that benefit EV drivers. EV owners mostly charge their cars parked at home, overnight, which often matches times of lower overall electricity demand. Many utilities offer lower rates during these times. Off-peak, time-of-use rates vary from $.03 per kWh to $0.21 per kWh, resulting in gasoline equivalent costs ranging from $0.25 per gallon to $1.78 per gallon.
  • The price of electricity is more stable than oil prices because it can be generated from diverse sources and U.S. electricity markets are regulated. In constant dollars, and when expressed in equivalent gasoline prices, the national average price of electricity as a vehicle fuel has remained around $1 per gallon ($0.88 to $1.17 per gallon) over the last 15 years. Average U.S. gasoline prices between 2002 and 2017 ranged from less than $2.00 to more than $4.50 a gallon.
  • Purchase prices of EVs are going down. The cost to produce the battery pack of EVs drives their manufacturing costs, which have been typically higher compared with those for gasoline vehicles. But falling battery costs and rising EV production are expected to bring the purchase prices of EVs down to approach those of gasoline vehicles.
  • EVs can be cheaper to maintain than comparable gasoline vehicles. Battery electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, do not require oil changes and other engine services, while the electric motor and battery systems require little to no scheduled maintenance.

Recommendations for drivers considering an EV

  • Evaluate the ability to get electric power where you intend to park an EV.
  • Find out about rate options available for charging an EV, especially whether your electric provider offers time-of-use rates.
  • Research the availability of state, local and electricity-provider incentives for buying an EV or EV charging equipment.

Recommendations for policymakers and electricity providers

  • Access to lower-cost electricity rate plans are key to making EVs a reliable and affordable alternative to gasoline vehicles.
  • Access to reliable and public charging, especially fast-charging stations, are needed for those drivers who cannot charge at home and those who must drive long distances.
  • Public policies that improve charging options at apartments and multi-unit dwellings will broaden the base of drivers who can choose an EV.
  • Making separate rates for EV and household electricity available could lower the cost for EV charging for more consumers.
  • Rate plans, pricing mechanisms, and smart-charging technologies that encourage the coordination of EV charging with the availability of renewable electricity sources will decrease charging costs and further reduce heat-trapping emissions.

Recommendations for policymakers and automakers

  • Federal and state purchase incentives are vital to making EVs an affordable and competitive option.
  • Incentive programs for lower-income households to adopt EVs will bring the economic benefits from lower fuel costs to communities and demographics that need it the most but currently lack the ability to invest in an EV.
  • Public policies that require manufacturers to produce higher volumes of EVs and encourage a greater diversity of electric-drive models and sizes will lower purchase prices for EVs.
Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals

Close-up of beluga whale swimming in water. Graham Swain / EyeEm / Getty Images

Beluga Whale in River Thames 'Very Lost and Quite Possibly in Trouble'

Beluga whales are normally found in icy Arctic and subarctic waters. So onlookers were undoubtedly surprised to spot one of the distinctive white whales swimming very far south in the UK's River Thames.

Ecologist and ornithologist Dave Andrews first posted footage of the unusual sighting onto Twitter on Tuesday and said the whale was feeding around the barges near the town of Gravesend in northwest Kent.


Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Environmentalists paint "DIRTY" onto a silo at an Indonesia palm oil plant. Jurnasyanto Sukarno / Greenpeace

Rock Band Occupies Palm Oil Tanks With Activists Protesting Deforestation

Thirty activists, including members of Greenpeace and the Indonesian rock band Boomerang, occupied a palm oil refinery owned by Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, on Tuesday to protest deforestation in Indonesia.

The environmentalists abseiled down silos and unfurled a banner that read "Drop Dirty Palm Oil Now" and painted the word "DIRTY" onto another tank.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pixabay

Trump Administration Asks Court to Re-Hear Case That Banned Chlorpyrifos

The Trump administration is appealing a federal court ruling that ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide tied to brain damage and other health problems in children.

In August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the EPA must ban the pesticide within 60 days based on strong scientific evidence that chlorpyrifos—which is applied on dozens of fruit, nut and vegetable crops—is unsafe for public health.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Katharina Jaeger / LOOK / Getty Images

Locals Unite to Stop Hog Farms From Polluting Their Community

By Wyatt Massey

Sue George never intended to be an activist. The soft-spoken, retired elementary school teacher was content on her century farm near Lime Springs, a town in the rolling hills of northeast Iowa with a tad under 500 people.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Science
Young Florida panthers, one of the most endangered species in the U.S. according to the Center for Biological Diversity. USFWS

9,000+ Scientists Defend Endangered Species Act in Letter to Trump Administration

Thousands of scientists have signed two letters opposing changes to the Endangered Species Act proposed by the Trump administration that critics say would weaken protections in favor of developers, Reuters reported Monday.

The proposed changes were announced by the Interior and Commerce Departments in July, and include axing the "blanket rule' granting threatened species the same protections as endangered species and removing language telling officials not to consider economic impacts when listing a species.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Sandy Huffaker / Corbis / Getty Images

EPA Watchdog: 'Emergency' Pesticide Approval Process Is Flawed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of the Inspector General released a report Tuesday finding that the agency's practice of routinely granting "emergency" approval for use of pesticides across millions of acres does not effectively measure risks to human health or the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Oceans
Russian and U.S. students carry bug spray for the mosquitoes, bear spray for the grizzlies and notebooks for the salmon science, while studying in Alaska's backcountry. John Simeone on behalf of WWF

Sharing Knowledge and Salmon Across the Bering Sea

By Amy McDermott

At the height of the Alaskan summer, a troupe of students hiked up the middle of a shallow creek. Undergraduates and grads from the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Kamchatka State Technical University in eastern Russia carried handheld clickers to count the multitudes of salmon thrashing upstream to spawn. Some of the students spoke English, others Russian, but they all came to see salmon: fish that their two countries share.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
The Orangutans in Indonesia have been known to be on the verge of extinction as a result of deforestation and poaching.
Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images News

5 Ways to Make Food Production and Land Use More Earth-Friendly

By Edward Davey

The world is vastly underestimating the benefits of acting on climate change. Recent research from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030. This ground-breaking research, produced by the Global Commission and more than 200 experts, highlights proof points of the global shift to a low-carbon economy, and identifies ways to accelerate action in five sectors: energy, cities, food and land use, water and industry. Our blog series, The $26 Trillion Opportunity, explores these economic opportunities in greater detail.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!