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Articles on Electric Vehicles

March 2, 2015
Paul Gipe

Our Nissan Leaf's Electricity Consumption Early 2015

We’ve had our 2015 Nissan Leaf, a battery-powered, all-electric car, for four months now. As a good student of engineering, I’ve been keeping a running mileage log on our Leaf. (Of course, I’ve been doing this with gasoline-powered cars since I learned to drive oh so many years ago.)

When we got our recent bill from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., I thought I’d take a look at hour our Electric Vehicle (EV) was affecting our consumption.

Importantly, we don’t have solar PV and we’re not on any special rate plan. We live a normal middle-class lifestyle, but there’s just the two of us and we don’t have anything fancy like a swimming pool or Jacuzzi.

Our consumption was always around that of the “baseline” for this climate zone. However, fifteen years ago we put in practice the techniques of energy conservation I preach. As a result, we cut our consumption nearly 50%. Until the advent of our EV, our consumption averaged 3,500 kWh per year, or about that of the typical European family and about half that of the typical California residential consumer.

Obviously, plugging in and charging our EV will change that and it did. The results, though, are not disheartening. PG&E’s chart of our consumption for February is shown at right.

As you can see, the days we charged the EV clearly show on the chart. Our kWh consumption rose dramatically from the month’s daily average.

Here’s the EV’s consumption from the mileage log and the kWh meter on our wall-mounted EVSE.


We used nearly 120 kWh in February, costing us about $20. We covered nearly 500 miles from those kWh.

We consumed a total of 287 kWh in February. EV charging accounted for 40% of that. Even with EV charging we were within 10% of the baseline of 6,500 kWh per year.

I checked January as well. In January we were 108%, or about 10%, above the baseline.


It cost us $0.04 per mile to “fuel” the EV.

How does this stack up to a “gasser” as EV drivers call conventional gasoline-powered cars?


I calculated the cost per mile under several conditions: various price per gallon of fuel, and the efficiency of a typical mid-size car and that of a Prius.

At today’s fuel cost of $3 per gallon, the cost of fuel for a mid-size car is about $0.12 per mile and that for the Prius  is about $0.06 per mile.

I tell people that the fuel for our EV is about half that of a “typical” car, and less than a Prius.

This is just a fuel cost comparison. It doesn’t take into account the higher capital costs for the traction battery in an EV or the EVSE (charge station) mounted on the wall of our house.

I am satisfied that if our consumption follows the February example, we’ll stay below the electricity consumption of the typical Californian even with the addition of the EV.

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