EV Fuel Costs
You may hear that one big advantage of owning an electric vehicle over a gasoline vehicle is that operating costs are much lower for EVs. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are completely fueled by electricity but also have fewer parts that require maintenance – no timing belts, motor oil, water pumps, radiators, fuel injectors, or transmission fluid. This certainly does help keep operating costs down. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) accept both electricity and gasoline as fuel sources, so they require maintenance that is similar to maintenance performed on gasoline vehicles, but at greater time intervals.
EV Operating Costs
One sometimes overlooked aspect of operating costs when comparing EVs to gasoline vehicles are that fuel costs for EVs can be quite nuanced. Charging at home, for instance, has known costs associated with your price of electricity. If, however, you charge regularly while on the go, you may pay significantly more for electricity at public charging stations. This is especially true if you pay for a DC fast charge. And the number of DC plugs is expected to grow rapidly across Colorado in the next couple of years.
The chart above compares the costs of home charging a Chevy Bolt (BEV) versus charging that Bolt at a mix of home (70%), public Level 2 (20%), and DC fast charging stations (10%). It also compares those costs to the costs of gasoline for vehicles that get 20 and 50 miles per gallon. As you can see, while home charging has the lowest cost of all options over 20,000 miles, once you start charging your vehicle regularly at public charging stations, costs can be undercut by highly fuel efficient gasoline vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.
Of course, public charging costs can vary significantly from station to station. In this example, we assumed costs of $0.40/kWh for public Level 2 charging and $12/hour for DC fast charging. Some public Level 2 stations are free of charge, and the market for both Level 2 and DC charging is still being established. We assumed that gasoline costs $2.50/gallon. At $3/gallon, even a Prius getting 50 mpg would cost more to fuel than the Bolt using the mix of charging stations shown in the example. The takeaway is that EV ownership still does reduce overall operating costs compared to gasoline vehicles, but it pays to be aware of where you might charge to keep electric fuel costs as low as possible.