Is an Electric Car Less Expensive in the Long Run?

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Feb 29, 2016

It’s quite the conundrum: electric cars typically cost more than a traditional gasoline-fueled car, but they promise fuel savings over the long run. So how do you know you’re actually saving money with an electric vehicle vs. a hybrid or conventional gas car?

First, here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

  • Purchase Costs
  • Operating Costs
  • Maintenance Costs
  • Environmental Considerations

Let’s go over each of these categories more in depth.

Purchase Costs

For ease of comparison, we will look at Ford sedans since they have models in all three categories. However, there are other models available from Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, and more.

Don’t forget that you need to purchase an electric charger. Currently, at-home chargers cost $400 to $800, not including installation.

Don’t get thrown off by the initial cost differences, though. Take into consideration the various tax incentives or rebates for purchasing a hybrid or electric car that may be available to you.

Operating Costs

The most obvious operating cost to compare is fuel and electricity. Here are the miles per gallon or miles-per-gallon equivalent for each model. Also included is how much it will cost to drive 76 miles (the max mileage the Ford electric car can drive on a full charge), assuming gas is $3.50 per gallon.

  • 2016 gasoline-powered Ford Fusion = 22/34 MPG

Cost of gasoline to drive 76 freeway miles = $7.83

  • 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE (switch between gasoline and electricity) = 44/41 MPG

Cost of gasoline drive 76 freeway miles = $6.49

  • 2016 Ford Fusion Energi SE (switch between gasoline, electricity, or both) = 95/81 MPGe

Cost of gasoline to drive 76 freeway miles = $3.29

  • 2016 Ford Focus Electric = 110/99 MPGe

Cost of electricity to drive 76 freeway miles = $6.90       

Some other time/convenience operating costs to consider:

  • Charging your battery takes 3.6 hours at 240V or 20 hours at 120V.
  • Hybrid and Energi batteries don’t need to be plugged in since they get their energy reclaimed by converting gasoline when you drive and brake.
  • You can drive 363 city miles before needing to fill up a gas tank in the Ford Fusion, 594 city miles in the Ford Fusion Hybrid SE, and 1,330 city miles in the Ford Fusion Energi SE.

Now that we’ve covered operating cost, next up are maintenance costs.

Maintenance Costs

The costs and time of maintenance on an electric vehicle are significantly lower than on a gasoline-powered vehicle. There are fewer emissions checks, oil changes, air filter or drive belt replacements, cooling system flushes, spark plug installations, or transmission services.

The only regular maintenance required is routine regenerative braking system checks and the battery pack’s cooling system flush at 100k miles. Batteries must be replaced every 3-10 years compared to every 5-7 years in a gasoline-powered car. 

Hybrid maintenance costs will be lower than gasoline-powered engines since it is only being used part time rather than full time.

Environmental Considerations

Costs and convenience aren’t the only costs to consider when purchasing a new car. There are environmental considerations as well. Some of them are:

  • Carbon emissions and footprint
  • Noise pollution
  • Dependency on foreign crude oil
  • Environmental impact of oil drilling

Keep in mind that the biggest reason consumers choose to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles isn’t because of cost savings or convenience but because they feel it is the right thing to do for our planet.

When it comes time to make your decision, visit with the agents at Insurance Center Associates of San Pedro/Torrance California. We will help you find an auto insurance policy with the right coverage for the right price. 

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