Spoiler Alert: It’s a lot.
For some buyers, the savings on fuel and maintenance costs is one of the motivations for buying an electric vehicle. Those who actually own one know that the main advantage of going electric is the superior driving experience – however, the savings certainly offset the higher purchase price of an EV, and in some cases may result in the total cost of ownership being lower than that of a comparable legacy vehicle.
- This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.
But how to estimate the potential savings? It’s a complex calculation that will be different for every driver – gas and electricity prices vary widely depending on where you live, and of course how you use your vehicle is another major factor. Cameron, the producer of The Tech of Tech YouTube channel, has prepared a handy Electricity vs. Gas/Diesel Savings Calculator that you can use to calculate the potential savings in any desired scenario.
First you need to figure out how many miles you drive per month, on average. Unless you have a very rigid schedule (for example, commuting five days per week, and never using your car for any other trips), your estimate of the number of miles you drive is not likely to be very accurate. Most people vastly overestimate the distances they drive, which is part of the reason range anxiety is such a prevalent problem. Therefore, I recommend using hard numbers: dig out the receipt from your last oil change, or your vehicle title, and note the odometer reading listed there, then take a current odometer reading, and do the math to calculate how many miles per month you’ve actually been driving.
The next step is to find the efficiency rating for your EV (or for ones you’re thinking of buying). Figures for current EVs can be found at InsideEVs, and data for previous years’ models can be found at www.fueleconomy.gov. As is the case with gas cars, there are separate city, highway and combined efficiency figures, so you may choose to fudge the number a little to make it fit your typical driving conditions. If you already own an EV, you should be able to find the actual efficiency number in your data logs. This would be the best number to use (the EPA says my 2015 LEAF should get 3.33 miles per kWh, but the LEAF itself tells me it gets 4.2).
Unfortunately, however, different sources use different ratios to express efficiency. My LEAF (and some other non-Tesla EVs) expresses efficiency in miles per kWh, whereas Cameron and InsideEVs follow Tesla’s convention of expressing it in watt-hours per mile. There’s a conversion table available, but you’ll need algebraic skills superior to mine to figure out how to use it – I settled for InsideEVs’ figure for the 2019 LEAF. (There’s a lively discussion on the relative merits of the two different ratios on the Tesla Forum.)
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