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Articles on Electric Vehicles

October 24, 2019
Paul Gipe

What does it Cost per Mile to Drive an Electric Vehicle?

Here in California it costs a little less than $0.06 per mile for us to charge our Bolt EV at home. Elsewhere in North America it may cost half that to charge at home. The cost to drive on electricity in California is about one-half that of driving with gasoline for most vehicles. It's even less expensive driving electric than it is driving a Prius.

It's also less expensive to drive on electricity in states where gasoline is cheap, such as Indiana, because electricity is often also cheap. To drive our Bolt in Indiana it would cost about $0.03 per mile for electricity. (The cost of electricity in Indiana is half that of California.) At the average cost of gasoline in Indiana of $2.50 per gallon, it costs $0.08 to $0.10 per mile to fuel an internal combustion engine (ICE).

Home Charging

Nearly all EV drivers charge nearly all the time at home. EVs are not gassers. You don't have to go to a filling station to gas up. You "fill up" at home.

About 90% of our charging is done at home where the cost of electricity is $0.22 per kWh. That's about $0.06 to $0.07 per mile at an efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh. Our efficiency is actually a little better than that during the two years we've leased our Bolt: 3.8 miles per kWh. So our cost to drive electric is a little less than $0.06 per mile.

The Cost of Fast Charging on the Road

The topic of what it costs per mile to power an EV is a common question from those comparing an EV to a conventional vehicle. Inexperienced drivers often complain about the costs of charging on road trips requiring intermediate charging stops because they only look at the cost per kWh of the electricity they're buying.

Eric Way addresses this question--and why it comes up so often--in an article on Strategies to Save Money When DC Fast Charging at TorqueNews. Way charges a lot on the road. He drives a thousand miles in his Bolt almost every weekend.

For most of us, we only use DC fast charging when we're a long way from home. Then you need to charge and you pay what it costs to get to your destination. Over the course of a year, the costs are minor even if you're paying a fairly stiff price per kWh for the electricity you use.

EV drivers keep the big picture in mind. Overall, driving an EV is cheaper than driving a gasser, even when occasionally fast charging on a road trip.

Last year we spent about $150 buying some 300 kWh of electricity from DC fast charging stations on road trips from ChargePoint and EVgo. (If you're wondering, that's about $0.50 per kWh or $0.14 per mile at our efficiency.) All told, we consumed about 3,000 kWh last year to drive on electricity. Fast charging on road trips accounted for only 10% of the total electricity used by our Bolt to drive some 10,000 miles in 2018.

We did charge overnight at a few motels with Level 2 stations where the electricity was free and we charged a few nights at motels where we had to pay a nominal fee.

We take a fair number of road trips in our EV where we need to charge along the way. (Some of our round trips are more than 500 miles. See EV Trip Reports for more details.) We never shop for the cheapest charger just as we never shopped for the cheapest gas on a road trip in a gasser. We find a convenient station, log-in to the charge network, charge our car, and then go about our way.

There's an old adage that's appropriate here: Penny wise and pound foolish. Drivers needn't worry about buying electricity occasionally from a fast charger when they are saving so much throughout the year by charging at home.

ChargePoint Network

Charging at ChargePoint DC fast charging stations typically costs $0.40 to $0.50 per kWh. However, the average cost to us for charging in 2018-2019 was only $0.34 per kWh. This includes sessions at Level 2. The price charged at stations not owned directly by ChargePoint is set by the property owner and in some cases the charge was free or less than what ChargePoint charges at its own stations.

Our payments to ChargePoint last year are equivalent to $0.10 per mile at an efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh.

EVgo Network

We used about the same amount of electricity at EVgo stations as we did at ChargePoint stations, but we did pay more. The average cost for the 2018-2019 year was $0.59 per kWh.

Our payments to EVgo are equivalent to $0.17 per mile at an efficiency of 3.5 miles per kWh.

For comparison, the average fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks in 2016 was 25 mpg. At the current cost of gasoline in California that equates to $0.15 per mile. Thus, fast charging on the road at an EVgo station will be slightly more expensive than driving on gasoline in California. However, 90% of the electricity used by our EV costs less than half that of gasoline because we charge at home.

What it Costs Us

For example, last year we used 3,000 kWh to drive the Bolt. Less the 300 kWh we bought from ChargePoint and EVgo, we had to buy 2,700 kWh from our utility at $0.22 per kWh. So we paid about $600 for electricity to charge our car at home. Plus, we paid $150 for 300 kWh on the road. Altogether, we paid $750 to use 3,000 kWh. That 3,000 kWh cost us, on average, $0.25 per kWh or about $0.07 per mile.

For us here in California, fueling our Bolt EV costs half that of fueling a gasser at the national average fuel efficiency. Thus, we save about $375 per year in fuel costs.

However, our last gasoline-powered car was a Prius. We averaged a little more than 40 mpg during the 30,000 miles we drove the car. Compared to the Prius, we save $0.02 per mile for fuel, or $200 per year for the 10,000 miles we drive annually.


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