How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Are you considering purchasing an electric vehicle for the potential fuel and cost savings?

This is one of the main reasons that so many people are attracted to electric vehicles.

But will an electric vehicle actually save you money?

It’s time to learn more about the efficiency of electric vehicles in 2018. This article breaks down the costs of charging an electric car to see how they really compare with their gas-consuming counterparts.

Content Guide:

Electric Tesla sitting in the grass


The Benefits of Driving an Electric Vehicle

There are many benefits to driving an electric car. From low maintenance to the low cost of ownership to instant torque, electric vehicles are only growing in popularity. Many people prefer electric vehicles simply for the fact that they have a lower environmental impact than vehicles that run on gas and fuel.

But can an EV also save you money?


How Energy Efficiency Is Measured In Cars

The number of kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 miles determines the energy efficiency of an electric vehicle.

The kWh measurement reflects the amount of energy converted if work occurs at an average rate of one thousand watts per hour. One kWh is also measured as 3.6 megajoules and is a composite unit of energy of power sustained over a one hour period.

For a better understanding of the measurement, we’ll use three popular electric cars as examples:

  • Tesla Model X P100D = 34.6 kWh per 100 miles
  • Honda Clarity Electric = 28.65 kWh per 100 miles
  • Chevy Bolt EV = 25.21 kWh per 100 miles

The lower the kWh per 100 miles, the more energy efficient. So in these examples, the Chevy Bolt EV is the most energy efficient electric vehicle.


Understanding EV Battery Capacity

The efficiency combined with the capacity of a battery dictates the range of an electric vehicle. For the three models we listed above, this is how their battery capacity compares:

  • Tesla Model X P100D = 100 kWh
  • Honda Clarity Electric = 25.5 kWh
  • Chevy Bolt EV = 60 kWh

Calculating Electric Vehicle Range

To calculate the range of the vehicle, divide the battery capacity by the efficiency and multiply that result by 100.

Range = (kWh (battery capacity) / kWh (efficiency)) x 100

The results for the three models above are as follows:

  • Tesla Model X P100D = ~289 miles
  • Honda Clarity Electric = ~ 89 miles
  • Chevy Bolt EV = ~238 miles

Total Cost of Charging an Electric Car

There are two significant factors that determine the cost of ev charging. The size of the battery, as well as the local electricity costs in your region, factor into the cost of each charge.

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Electricity costs vary from state to state, and they vary much more than fuel. However, the cost of electricity tends to be much more stable than gas, which fluctuates often. According to fueleconomy.gov, the national average for electricity is 13 cents per kWhClick here to see your local kWh costs.

So How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Based on the national average, a 100 kWh battery will cost you $13 to recharge.

  • If you were to charge the Tesla X P100D in the state of New York, where the electricity rate is 17.62 cents per kWh, you can expect to pay $17.62 per charge.
  • Charging that same Tesla in Nebraska, where the rate is 10.04 cents per kWh, will only cost you $10.04 per charge.
  • Drive that Tesla to Maine, where the cost is 14.66 cents per kWh, and you’ll pay $14.66 per charge.

This is assuming you are using home charging and not using fee-based charging stations. The cost of using public charging stations can vary, with some even being free. Charging costs at these stations can depend on charging time (fast vs. slow) and location. For a closer look at public charging, we recommend this resource.


Cost of Driving an Electric Vehicle vs a Regular Gas-Powered Car

We’re using the 2018 Fuel Economy Guide to compare the cost of driving an EV to a gas vehicle over the course of one year. This guide, released by the U.S. Department of energy and the EPA, assumes that the average person drives approximately 15,000 miles per year.

The prices vary from state to state and can change depending on how many miles you actually drive in a year. But for this example, we’ll use 15,000 miles per year average. Assuming that your EV operates at 30 kWh per 100 miles and the cost of electricity is the average 13 cents per kWh, you will spend $545 per year to charge your car.

Remember that number: $545 per year.

So how does that compare to driving a gasoline vehicle? Again, it depends on your local fuel costs and the miles per gallon your car gets on the road. For this example, we’re using the 2018 Fuel Economy Guide average of $2.92/gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. If you use premium gasoline, the costs are even higher.

According to this article from Reuters, the EPA says “Fuel economy…was projected in the 2017 model year to hit another record of 25.2 mpg.” Based on those statistics, the average cost of fuel per year is $1,738.10.

Average savings of $1,193.10 per year…

Remember the $545 figure from before? Do the math. $1,738.10 to drive a gas-fueled car minus $545 to charge an EV results in an average savings of $1,193.10 per year for ev drivers. And that is fuel-savings alone. We didn’t even factor in the lower cost of maintenance.


Are the Savings of an EV Worth It?

If you are deciding if the cost of an electric vehicle is worth the savings, remember: These calculations are based on averages, and every car and every driver is different.

Depending on your vehicle and how often you drive, the savings vary. But the result is clear: driving an energy efficient EV will cost you less than driving a gas-fueled car.

Where you live will dictate your electricity costs. But those electricity costs are much more stable than fuel costs, which can fluctuate from day to day and month to month.

With an electric vehicle, it’s fairly easy to calculate what you can expect to spend per year to charge your car. With a gas-fueled vehicle, it’s much harder to predict your fuel costs, as gas prices can change frequently and drastically.

Buying an electric vehicle certainly has its pros and cons. The energy efficiency is helpful to the environment. Electric charges will undoubtedly cost you less money than you would spend on gas.

But before you embark on a long road trip, make sure you know where you can go to charge up. Have an idea of how many pit-stops you’re going to have to make on each trip. If you’re used to a hybrid that can go 700 miles on a single tank of gas, an EV might not be right for you.


Other Electric Transportation Alternatives to Consider:

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