Mile by Mile, Electric Vehicles Show Us the Money

April 26, 2012 | 11:21 am
Jim Kliesch
Former contributor

Tired of pump price volatility? You might want to check out an electric car.

This post is part of a series on the UCS report State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States.

Consumers are getting some (slight) relief at the pump these days, as gasoline prices fell 1.8% in the last three weeks to a national average of $3.87. And, for the first time in two-and-a-half years, the national average this week is lower than it was a year ago at this time. By contrast, a mere two months ago, the national average was 40 cents above its year-ago mark.

Though this temporary respite at the pump is welcome news for drivers, a closer examination of gas prices highlights a growing trend that is unlikely to abate anytime in the foreseeable future: pump price volatility.

We at UCS have noted for years that fuel-efficient vehicles insulate consumers from volatility in gasoline prices, and that continues to hold true. But what’s the story at the end of the spectrum? How much does it cost to fuel cars that are fully insulated from gasoline price volatility – because they use no gasoline at all?

As of last week, we have the answers. In a new UCS report on electric vehicles (EVs),  my colleagues Don Anair and Amine Mahmassani found that EVs are, in fact, an excellent choice for cutting fuel costs. The State of Charge report examined the utility rates in 50 major U.S. cities, and showed that EV owners can save $750 to $1,200 each year compared to operating a compact gasoline vehicle that gets 27 mpg, fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon.

It’s true that EVs have a higher sticker price than today’s conventional vehicles, but the fuel cost-savings can go a long way toward defraying the higher up-front cost of electric cars. And, of course, fueling on electricity doesn’t just save money. It also can save more than 6,000 gallons of gasoline over the vehicle’s life (compared to the average new compact vehicle.)

EVs may not be the perfect choice for every driver, but for those who are considering an EV purchase, knowing how much one can save on fueling the vehicle is an important factor to consider. Take a look at the report findings for your region. You just might be surprised at how much you can save by skipping trips to the pump…