How much does an EV actually cost?
September 18, 2013
September 18, 2013
*Last updated: December 2016
A lot of people assume going electric is expensive, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
There are many costs to consider when purchasing an electric vehicle (or any vehicle for that matter). With EVs, it’s important to consider the cost of the vehicle itself, vehicle maintenance costs, purchasing/installing a charging station, and your hydro/electricity bill.
Vehicle and Charging Costs
Consumer perception is that electric vehicles are priced at a strong premium, however, governments offer incentives for future EV owners by subsidizing costs.
The Ontario government offers an incentive up to $13,000 on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles(PHEVs). The US federal government also offers up to $7500 in tax credits to purchase an electric vehicle. Other incentives exist at the state and provincial levels, so be sure to check your local government’s website.
While public charging stations are not yet as accessible as gas stations, the numbers continue to rise. In any case, most EV charging is done at home.
Level 1 charging does not require a charging station; it simply uses a three-prong household outlet (similar to what your washer or dryer would use). Although available to all electric vehicles, it is a very slow process and may take over an evening of charging for a full charge (approx. 5 miles/hour).
Level 2 charging requires external equipment. The equipment can range anywhere from $500 to $3000 dollars. Level 2 charging is faster than Level 1, adding about 15-30 miles of driving range per hour of charging – depending on the vehicle.
DC fast charging can add over 100 km (60 mi) of driving range within half an hour of charging. DC fast charging uses industrial-rated, gas pump-sized stations. These stations are primarily found at commercial locations (they cost about $50,000 to install), and not all EVs support it.
Most EV owners tend to go with Level 2 charging. And much like for the vehicles themselves, federal and provincial/state governments offer incentives to buy and install these stations in a home (Ontario offers up to $1000 to install at home or at a business).
An Example Cost Scenario with the Chevrolet Volt
Let’s say you were to drive a 2017 Chevrolet Volt for 1609 km (1000 miles) a month at current Toronto hydro rates (off-peak TOU pricing). With the Volt’s electric rating at ~3 miles per kilowatt-hour, it would take 333 Kilowatt-Hours to power the 1609 km (1000 miles).
333 Kilowatt-Hours * $0.087 Per Kilowatt Hour = $28.97 CAD in electricity costs per month for the Volt.
With current gas prices at around $1/litre ($2.90/gal USD equivalent after currency conversion), it would cost $80 CAD to fill up a a comparable sedan (30 MPG).
That represents a savings of 64%, or over $50/month. The savings only gets better as gas prices rise. When gas prices were $1.40/litre in 2014, total savings would have been over $80/month.
This also doesn’t even factor in reduced maintenance costs. Electric cars don’t require oil changes, transmission fluid, engine coolant etc.
While the initial cost of an electric vehicle may seem significantly greater than a conventional vehicle, the total cost of ownership can often actually be lower in the long-run. This makes buying an EV not only great for the environment, but for your wallet as well.