How much cheaper does it cost to run an electric or hybrid vehicle compared to gasoline? We did the math | Business


Electric vehicles are looking better and better to disgusted motorists paying over $4 a gallon for gas.

Assuming all other costs are equal, it’s simply cheaper to run electric and hybrid vehicles compared to their gasoline-only counterparts. But all other costs are not equal, of course. Automotive analysts say you should expect to wait years before your accumulated fuel savings exceed the extra money you spent on the vehicle.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel compared the running costs of different types of vehicles on a vehicle cost calculator website run by the US Department of Energy.

These comparisons confirmed what consumers might suspect: fully electric vehicles are the cheapest to operate.

Using the Vehicle Cost Calculator, we compared the cost of driving four 2021 sedans, each rated just over 200 horsepower, in city conditions for a week. To simplify the comparison, we assumed that gas would cost $4.30 a gallon, as it does today, and that none of the trips would be on highways. We assumed that each car would travel about 200 miles, or 28.6 miles per day.

Additionally, we assumed that the vehicle would be charged from home at prevailing residential utility rates (currently about 12 cents per kilowatt hour). Using charging stations located along highways can be much more expensive and significantly increase costs.

Here are the results:

— The all-electric rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus was by far the cheapest vehicle to run, with an annual fuel (or electricity) cost of $281 per year, or $5.40 per week.

-A plug-in hybrid, Honda Clarity, was the second cheapest, with an annual electricity cost of $363 or $6.99 per week. Since this plug-in hybrid can run on electricity for 47 miles before switching to gasoline engine mode, no gasoline was consumed in our example.

—A traditional hybrid, the Toyota Avalon XLE Hybrid, costs significantly more to drive. The Avalon used 4.7 gallons of gasoline, or $20, each week, raising the annual fuel cost to $1,041 for 242 gallons. Still, the electric motor helped the Avalon achieve a stellar 43 mpg.

—Finally, the gas-only Lexus ES 250 used eight gallons a week, or $34.4. Over a year, that’s 416 gallons at an annual cost of $1,791. Fuel efficiency dropped to 25 mpg, even better than most cars, trucks and vans on the roads today.

“Green” vehicles, explained

You can make your own comparison, selecting various driving conditions and choosing from hundreds of makes and models, at

Before we dive in, though, it helps to know the difference between the types of “green” vehicles on the market today.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered entirely by batteries. Homeowners can charge these batteries using their household current or at publicly accessible charging stations. Consumers can expect to pay $8,000 to $10,000 more for an electric vehicle than a comparable gas-powered vehicle.

Today in the United States, Tesla dominates the all-electric market, and the other manufacturers are far behind.

Although Tesla does not disclose US sales figures, Cox Automotive estimates that Tesla sold 352,471 cars in the US in 2021, a 71% increase from the 205,600 sold in 2020. Telsa models 3 and Y were the two best-selling electric vehicles, followed, a distant third, by Ford’s Mustang Mach E.

For many consumers, all-electric vehicles are not yet a practical option due to their relatively short range between charges, which adds time and hassle to the prospect of a long car journey. Even the longer-range vehicles available today, such as the Tesla Model S, can only go about 400 miles between charges.

Hybrids occupy the space between gasoline and electric vehicles. All hybrids have gasoline engines that allow owners to take them on long trips without worrying about cost, wasted time, or the availability of public charging stations.

Hybrids come in three flavors:

A traditional or self-charging hybrid uses a battery to offload certain functions of a gasoline engine, such as powering accessories and restarting vehicles designed to die out at traffic lights. The battery is charged when the car is running on gas, but the functions performed by the battery allow the engine to consume less gas and run more efficiently. Traditional hybrids cannot travel far or fast on their batteries alone and are never plugged into home or public chargers.

A recently introduced flavor is known as “Mild Hybrid”. These have small batteries that capture the energy expended during braking. The batteries have just enough power to allow the engine to be turned off when a vehicle is coasting, cruising, or stationary. At traffic lights, the batteries keep the car running while the engine shuts off, then smoothly restarts the engine when the light turns green.

Plug-in hybrids come with a battery that owners can charge overnight at their home. Newer models can go 30 to 50 miles on their battery before they have to switch to their gas engines. Like traditional hybrids, their batteries recharge while the car is running on gas and help conserve gas by offloading many functions to the battery.

Many consumers will switch to all-electric vehicles by buying a plug-in hybrid first, says Ronald Montoya, consumer advice editor at Edmunds, a California-based automotive research organization.

“The plug-in hybrid is a nice middleman,” says Montoya. “It won’t let you down. If you only do short trips during the week, you don’t need to fill up very often.

Sales are rising rapidly

While growing rapidly, sales of “green” vehicles reached 1.2 million last year, or 9.5 percent of the 14.9 million vehicles sold to consumers, according to the National Auto Dealers Association.

This market share is expected to grow rapidly over the next six years as manufacturers begin to introduce a wider variety of models and styles, says Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasts for AutoForecast Solutions, a analysis based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

By 2028, about 53% of all new vehicles sold in the United States will have an electric motor, according to Fiorani.

Sales of electric vehicles will increase from 423,000 in 2021 to 4.1 million, or more than 25% of all vehicles sold, by 2028, he said. Hybrids, which accounted for 800,000 sales last year, will still account for 25% of sales in 2028, he said.

Consumers will have more options: electric versions of the best-selling Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado trucks, GMC’s Hummer and many full-size SUVs will appeal to big-vehicle enthusiasts, as will more electric sedans and crossovers will be offered to small cars. buyers by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.

For muscle car fans, a new Dodge will be introduced in 2024, designed to appeal to Challenger and Charger fans. It will be sold alongside Ford’s all-electric Mustang Mach E.

Thin pickings for now

Analyst forecasts assume automakers will deliver on their promises to release planned models.

For now, everyone is still grappling with supply chain issues that have slowed the delivery of common gasoline engines.

Currently, Tesla buyers are forced to wait months for the model of their choice. Elsewhere, dealer lots offer a limited selection of affordable green vehicles.

At Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the nation’s largest auto retailer, less than 2% of on-hand inventory falls into the “specialty” category occupied by green vehicles, said Marc Cannon, executive vice president and chief company customer experience.

A search on AutoNation’s website for new electric vehicles under $40,000 turns up just five Chevy Bolts and three Nissan Leafs within a 200-mile radius, including 24 dealerships in three counties.

Revising the search for electric vehicles between $40,001 and $60,000 yields 35 vehicles. Of these, 19 are listed as “awaiting sale”. A safer bet would be to look for hybrids or plug-in hybrids. A search for these vehicles under $60,000 yields 277 results.

Production is gradually increasing among automakers, Cannon said. “You can’t just flip a switch, he says. Cannon expects EV availability to remain limited and prices to remain high over the next few years as “early adopters” purchase the fun new models, like the upcoming Chevy Silverado.

While gas price hikes may spark renewed interest – searches for green vehicle information on for the week ending March 13 are up 39% from the previous week — buyers ready to take the plunge might be better off waiting a little longer, Montoya says. Even though they cost less to drive, electric vehicles aren’t necessarily cheaper to own, he points out.

“You have to consider that electric vehicles will not be a silver bullet, he says. “They are expensive compared to gas-powered vehicles.”

It could take years for the fuel savings to outweigh the price difference, he says. “You have to consider the price you pay for this car.”

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at [email protected]

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