Will you really save money on fueling costs driving an EV?

August 11, 2022

Gas prices are at a recent all-time high. With more car man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­vid­ing strong elec­tric vehi­cle options, more peo­ple are ask­ing, is it worth the switch? Will I real­ly save more mon­ey dri­ving elec­tric than gas? The expe­ri­ence of thou­sands of EV dri­vers, includ­ing my per­son­al expe­ri­ence, answers that ques­tion with a defin­i­tive, yes!

Pri­or to pur­chas­ing a Tes­la Mod­el 3 Stan­dard Range, I owned a 2016 VW Jet­ta, pure­ly for the effi­cien­cy. My Jet­ta aver­aged 32 mpg, had Apple Carplay, and was relax­ing to dri­ve. In 2019, we decid­ed to give EVs a try and pur­chased the 2020 Tes­la Mod­el 3. We had done some math ahead of time, hop­ing the sav­ings would pan out, and it proved to have incred­i­ble results. 

In the last 30 days, I have dri­ven 3,000 miles in my Tes­la. My car con­sumed 617 kWh to make that dis­tance, which aver­ages almost 5 miles per kWh (a com­mon effi­cien­cy rat­ing for EVs.) An effi­cien­cy rat­ing for EVs is not miles per gal­lon, but how many kilo­watt hours are need­ed to trav­el 100 miles. An aver­age EV con­sumes 30 kWh/100 miles. My EV aver­ages around 21 kWh/100 miles.

My charg­ing habits have been quite mixed: 60% of my charg­ing is done at home, 30% at a free pub­lic charg­er, and 10% is done with super­charg­ing on the road. At home, I pay Xcel ener­gy their basic util­i­ty rate, which is around $0.13 per kWh for overnight charg­ing. At work, I often use a free, pub­lic charg­er which takes a few hours. On the road, I use the Tes­la Super­charg­er net­work, which costs $0.43 per kWh and charges in a mat­ter of min­utes. This means I paid close to $75 to trav­el 3,000 miles in my EV. 

If I still had my Jet­ta today, that same dis­tance would cost me near­ly $480 in fuel (14 gal. tank/3000 miles= 8 fill-ups at $4.85), not includ­ing the main­te­nance costs for a gas car. 

Grant­ed, because my EV range is only around 220 miles, I spend more time charg­ing than I would spend vis­it­ing a gas sta­tion. How­ev­er, most often I attempt to charge while I am work­ing or sleep­ing. There­fore, its effect on my life is quite min­i­mal. 

My bat­tery is rat­ed for 1,500 full charge cycles, or, in oth­er words, 300,000 miles before seri­ous degra­da­tion. I aver­age $0.05 per mile dri­ving the Tes­la, which means I can expect to spend $15,000 in the car’s life­time on charg­ing. My Jet­ta aver­aged $0.12 per mile. Assum­ing it could make it 300,000 miles with­out major over­hauls, engine, or trans­mis­sion replace­ments, I would still expect to pay $36,000 in fuel costs alone. Oil changes and spark plugs bring the total life­time cost of the Jet­ta to almost $40,000 (based on my local VW labor and parts) in the best case sce­nario.  

Accord­ing to KBB, the aver­age cost of a new EV is $55,000, and the aver­age cost of a new gas car is $47,000. A life­time of charg­ing brings that EV to $70,000 for 300,000 miles dri­ven. On the oth­er hand, a gas car could cost you $87,000 to dri­ve those same miles in fuel costs alone. 

So, do you ulti­mate­ly save mon­ey charg­ing with an EV? Whether you keep an EV for the life of the car or just a few years, you pay a frac­tion of the cost to fuel your EV than a gaso­line car. 


Writ­ten by Ben Westby

Pho­tos by Ben Westby

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