As gas prices soar and show no signs of slowing down, we see more and more people debating whether to switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle. If you're about to go electric and wonder, "Is it cheaper to charge an EV than to fill it up with gas?" " you're not alone.
If you're tired of feeling pain at the pump, you'll be happy to know that in almost every scenario, recharging an electric vehicle is significantly cheaper than refueling with gasoline or, worse, diesel.
However, there are several different factors and things you'll want to know before you go head first. The cost of charging an EV varies at home compared to public charging stations, especially if you opt for faster charging. And, just like gas, electricity prices can change over time and location. Here is an overview of the cost of charging an electric vehicle and how it compares to filling up with gas.
Gas versus electricity: in numbers
With an electric vehicle, instead of paying per gallon of gas, you will be charged per kilowatt hour to recharge the battery. And just as gas prices differ at every gas station, the price of a kWh is vastly different depending on where you live and, in some states, the time of day and peak hours. So it's hard to say how much it costs to charge an EV, but here are some averages.
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average new gasoline vehicle sold in the United States in 2020 had a combined fuel economy rating of 25,4 miles per gallon. Driving 100 miles in one of these vehicles would use around 3,9 gallons of gas.
Things get a little confusing when you're evaluating electric vehicles. The EPA's efficiency rating for electric vehicles is known as "MPGe," which stands for miles per gallon equivalent. This rating gives consumers an idea of the distance an electric vehicle can travel with the amount of chemical energy equivalent to a gallon of gasoline.
This same EPA report suggests that the average electric vehicle will consume 33,7 kilowatt hours of energy to match a gallon of regular gasoline. The numbers haven't been updated to take into account 2021 or 2022, so it's as close as possible.
The average MPGe rating for model year 2022 electric vehicles sold in the United States is around 97, so driving 100 miles in this hypothetical average vehicle would consume 34,7 kWh of electricity.
Doing the math here with hypothetical gasoline prices, if you're spending $4,50 per gallon of gasoline, you'll need nearly $18 to get 3,9 gallons and go 100 miles. On average, the national price for 1 kWh of electricity (at home) is around $0,14. Using the EPA's 34,7 kWh rating with energy price averages, it will cost you about $4,85 to get 3,9 "gallons" of electricity to drive 100 miles.
I know it's a little confusing, but the bottom line is that on average, it will be 3-4 times cheaper to fill your EV with battery than filling a gasoline car. These numbers fluctuate and in some states like Arizona, South Dakota, Oklahoma or Washington, electricity is even cheaper and would cost around $3,47 to travel 100 miles in an electric vehicle.
So yes, charging an EV from home is much cheaper than buying gasoline. However, these savings quickly diminish when you travel and use public chargers. And in some states, if you use fast chargers, you might spend more, but we'll get to that below.
The cost of charging an electric vehicle at home
Charging an electric vehicle at home is significantly cheaper than refueling, and it's also considerably cheaper than using a public charging station. This is a key aspect here and something you will want to remember.
On average, most US households pay nearly 14 cents per kWh, but that price can double during peak hours or in California and New York. On the other hand, this price is as low as 10 cents in Oklahoma. Yet the average cost is $0,14 per kWh, which is much cheaper than gas. Remember that some regions cost more.
Using our same calculations as above, if it costs about $4,85 to get 3,9 gallons of electricity to drive 100 miles, you can expect to pay less than $15, on average, to drive 300 miles in an electric vehicle. Most EVs have a range of around 300 miles, so it's basically $15 to fill the electric tank. You can't go 300 miles in a gas-powered vehicle for $15.
The new Ford F-150 Lightning EV truck is equipped with a 131 kWh battery. Paying $0,14 per kWh at home will cost $18,34 to charge your truck to 100% battery capacity. It's slow and will take 6-8 hours to charge at home with a Level 1 charger, but it's cheaper than gas.
Keep in mind that you'll probably have to spend a few hundred dollars to install a charger in your home, and for faster home chargers it can cost close to $3. So add that to your long-term calculations.
Most EV owners will charge their car at home, sitting on a charger overnight. And since most regions offer electricity discounts at night when consumption is low, this is the cheapest place and time to charge your electric car.
However, installing a home charger may not be possible in some rental homes and apartments. If so, you will have to rely on public charging stations.
The cost of charging an electric vehicle at public charging stations
If you can't install an EV charger at home or plan to take a lot of car trips, you will use public chargers. Again, things get confusing here, as charging speeds and costs can vary. Most public charging stations in the United States offer fast charging speeds, which means they are more expensive than a home charger.
Tesla has more than 30 Superchargers around the world, but the average cost is around $000 per kWh, almost double what you would pay at home. And in some states, like California, Tesla drivers are seeing prices above $0,27 per kWh. So instead of costing $0,43 to drive 15 miles after a home charge, you'll be spending around $300. In some cases, we have seen electricity prices reach over 44 cents per kWh.
Look at the difference? Charging an EV is absolutely cheaper than refueling, but it's also confusing, and the price can be significantly different depending on where you're charging, how fast you're charging and where you live.
There are more affordable public chargers, but they are also slow. Fast-charging stations can take a battery from 20-80% in around 25 minutes, but you're paying for that premium. The website MyEV has a detailed list of different charging network locations, prices and subscription fees for those interested. You can often join a top-up subscription service and get discounted prices, but it won't be as affordable as if you top-up at home.
And while you may find a slower charging station in public, no one wants to wait an hour for just 75 to 100 miles of battery power. As a result, most public stations offer faster, albeit more expensive, charging services.
If you plan to charge your new electric vehicle at home, it will be much cheaper than buying gasoline. However, these savings dissipate somewhat with public fast charging stations. It's still more affordable, but the cost of electricity is going up, like everything, so it might not be for long.
There is a silver lining, however. Until 2017, Tesla offered free supercharging with most vehicles, which was a huge plus. These days, we see big automakers like Volkswagen offering two years of free charging with every EV purchase, and Nissan is doing the same. Other brands like KIA have partnered with Electrify America and will offer owners a limited free public charge.
It's important to remember that not everyone buys an electric car expecting huge savings at the pump. Everyone has their reasons. Plus, when you factor in the cost of electric vehicles, you'll need to weigh your options before making the switch.
All in all, your kiloYardage may vary, but that's usually the case.