EV Charging vs. Gas: Comparing Costs
Cheaper running costs, improved range, and the increasing number of public chargers are making electric vehicle (EV) ownership more and more enticing. But how do EV charging costs compare to the price of gas?
In short, running an EV is considerably cheaper than fueling a gas-powered car, even in states with high electricity costs. Factor in environmental benefits, federal tax incentives, and the ability to charge your EV with renewable energy, and it's clear to see why 38% of Americans are considering going green with their next vehicle purchase.
As experts in the industry, we at SunPower have crunched the numbers to reveal how much you can expect to pay for EV charging versus gas. Read on to learn more, including our tips for keeping charging costs down when powering up your electric car.
Understanding EV charging costs
How much does it cost to charge your EV? The answer depends on dozens of factors, including your car type, how you charge it, and where you live.
The national average EV charging cost
To understand the average cost of charging an EV, taking a look at electricity prices and average EV energy consumption is a great place to start. Keep in mind electricity costs vary widely by location and can fluctuate from month to month.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) January 2024 release of its Electric Power Monthly report, the average cost of electricity in the U.S. during the first 11 months of 2023 was 16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The Electric Vehicle Database shows the average electric car consumes 0.195 kWh/km, or just over 0.31 kWh per mile.
Using this information, we can estimate that a standard electric car costs just under 5 cents per mile to charge at home.
Factors that influence EV charging costs
While the national average EV charging cost is around 5 cents per mile, your actual mileage costs will vary, depending on several elements.
The average electricity costs where you live
The average electricity prices for your state can significantly impact how much you pay for EV charging. For example, using data from November 2023 referenced in the same EIA report:
In Idaho, where electricity prices were among the lowest in the country, the average electricity cost per kWh was around 11.55 cents, so a standard EV cost about 3.6 cents per mile to charge and run.
In Vermont, residents paid around 21.57 cents per kWh, putting the average EV charging cost at about 6.7 cents per mile.
In California, where electricity costs reached around 29.41 cents per kWh, it cost a little over 9 cents per mile to charge and run an electric vehicle.
The energy consumption of your vehicle
Equally important in determining EV charging costs is understanding your vehicle’s electricity usage. Here are some popular models with their average energy consumption and charging cost per mile, calculated using a electricity cost of 16 cents per kWh.
Charging Cost Per Mile
Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model S Dual Motor
Hyundai IONIQ 5
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Tesla Model X Dual Motor
Lotus Eletre R
Mercedes EQV Extra-Long
You can see how your chosen model can significantly impact your charging costs. For example, a Ford Mustang Mach-E costs 1.36 cents per mile more than a Tesla Model 3. That means you could be spending an additional $13.60 for every 1,000 miles traveled.
Of course, it's also necessary to consider your state's electricity cost. Charging a KIA EV6, for example, would cost you around 3.29 cents per mile in Idaho, 6.15 cents per mile in Vermont, and 8.38 cents per mile in California, when calculated using the average electricity costs mentioned before.
When and how you charge your car
Finally, how you fuel your car can greatly impact the amount you pay for charging.
Public charging stations may be convenient, but they can also be expensive. At-home charging using a standard level 1 or level 2 charger is the most affordable way to fuel your vehicle, especially if you take advantage of off-peak hours for lower costs.
In addition, using home renewable energy solutions does more than lower your carbon footprint. It can also save you hundreds of dollars annually by reducing your dependence on expensive electricity from the grid. A home solar system paired with a smart EV charger is a great way to start charging your vehicle for less.
In short, to keep your EV charging as low-cost as possible:
Stick to at-home charging whenever possible.
Power your vehicle at the right time of day, preferably overnight, to leverage cheaper off-peak rates.
Leverage renewable energy to maximize sustainability and avoid high electricity costs.
How much does gas cost in America?
Fuel prices in the U.S. can vary wildly from day to day, but we can estimate based on average gas price and standard gas-powered vehicle consumption.
The average price per gallon of gas in the U.S. in 2023 was about $3.52.
The average gas-powered car offers approximately 24 miles per gallon.
Using these figures, we can estimate a gas-powered car's average fuel cost at just under 15 cents per mile.
EV charging costs vs. gasoline prices: How do they compare?
Now that we've explored the average costs for EV charging and gas-powered cars, let's see how the statistics stack up.
An average EV costs about 5 cents per mile to charge and run.
The average gas-powered car costs just under 15 cents per mile to run.
The average American commuter travels around 13,476 miles each year.
That means an average gasoline-powered car will typically set you back around $2,025 in fuel costs over a year.
In comparison, the average EV traveling the same distance would cost you around $675 annually.
That means driving an average EV could save you approximately $1,350 a year compared to a standard gas-powered car.
To sweeten the deal, EVs also have several exciting benefits, such as federal tax credits, rebates, initiatives, and promotions.
For example, you could be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit when you purchase a new plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell electric vehicle.*Tax credits subject to change. SunPower does not warrent, guarantee, or otherwise advise its customers about specific tax outcomes. Consult your tax advisor regarding EV tax credits and how they apply to your specific circumstances. This can significantly offset the upfront cost of buying your EV, making it even cheaper to go green.
Once you factor in these benefits, electric cars emerge as the clear winner for sustainability and cost-efficiency.
Solar panels: The key to unlocking cheaper EV charging
EV charging may be vital in America's fight for net zero. However, electricity from the grid isn't wholly sustainable, and standard EV charging still makes you susceptible to sudden price changes.
A recent Union of Concerned Scientists study explains that if renewables made up 95% of EV power generation, emissions from electric vehicles would drop to one-third of their current levels.
But that's not all. You can generate electricity by charging your car with a smart charger and a home renewable energy solution, such as a rooftop solar system. When you don't need to pay energy retailers to fill your tank, you could save hundreds of dollars yearly on your EV charging costs.
Ready to learn more about how you can power your home and your car with clean, renewable solar energy?
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