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EV charging cost compared to gas price

A driver uses a high-speed charging station for mobile phones at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) Airport on April 2, 2021 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The truth has been around for years: miles by miles, it’s cheaper — generally much cheaper — to charge an electric vehicle than to supply it with an internal combustion engine.

This has been a key selling point for manufacturers of Tesla and other electric vehicles, especially at a time when gas prices have risen, for example now. But this time there is a wrinkle: although Russia has seen gas prices rise as a result of the invasion of Ukraine, so have electricity prices, especially in some parts of the U.S. where Tesla EVs have been big markets.

This begs the question: is it still much cheaper to “supply” an EV? The graphs below help us find the answer.

The first graph, using national figures, provides a baseline. Others use specific data from Boston and San Francisco, two well-known markets for electric vehicles, and where electricity tends to be more expensive than the state average.

In all three cases, the answer is that even if there are regional increases in the price of electricity, filling your gas tank is more expensive than recharging your EV battery.

The rate of electricity has roughly kept pace with rising gas prices in Boston and San Francisco. However, on average, in the US, adding 100 miles to your internal combustion vehicle has become more expensive in recent months compared to charging an equivalent amount of an electric vehicle.

Is that likely to change? As oil prices fall sharply in the coming months, as producers increase production, it is unlikely that the price of electricity will rise to make EVs cheaper than internal combustion alternatives in their life cycle.

Using February data, Jeffries analyst David Kelley recently estimated that the lifetime cost of owning an electric vehicle is $ 4,700 less than that of an internal combustion vehicle. He said the cost gap is likely to increase as more EVs are marketed, and as battery prices continue to fall over the next two years.

How we bend the numbers

We had three questions in mind when completing these tables:

  • How much does it cost to add a 100 mile distance to the average ICE vehicle and the average EV?
  • How have these costs changed in the last three years? (Three years back in February 2019 gives us a basis for the pre-pandemic.)
  • How have these costs changed between different parts of the US?

As for gasoline, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the average new vehicle sold in the U.S. by 2020 combined had a combined fuel economy rating of 25.7 miles per liter. Driving 100 kilometers on average would use 3.9 liters of gasoline. (2021 figures not yet released.)

In terms of electric vehicles, the EPA gives consumers an idea of ​​the efficiency rating of electric vehicles – called “MPGe” per liter per mile equivalent – 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh). Why 33.7 kWh? This is the amount of electricity that is chemically equivalent to the energy of one liter of regular gasoline.

The average MPGe rating for 2022 model EVs sold in the U.S. is about 97, so driving an average of 100 miles on this hypothetical vehicle would use 34.7 kWh of electricity.

The graphs above show how the price of 3.9 liters of gas has changed over 34.7 kWh over time, with monthly data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (for gas prices) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (for electricity tariffs). From February 2019 to February 2022.

– CNBC Crystal Mercedes contributed to this article.

EV charging cost compared to gas price

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