With gas prices rising above the roof and showing no signs of slowing down, we are seeing more and more people discussing switching to an EV or hybrid vehicle. If you’re hesitant to switch to electricity and think, “Is it cheaper to charge an electric car than to refuel a car?”
If you’re sick of the pain at the pump, you’ll be happy to know that in almost all scenarios, charging an electric car is significantly cheaper than refueling with gasoline, or worse, diesel.
However, there are several different factors and things you should know before you embark on this. The cost of charging an electric car varies at home compared to public charging stations, especially if you opt for faster charging. And as with gas, electricity prices can change over time and place. Here’s an overview of how much it costs to charge an EV and how it compares to refueling.
Gas vs. electricity: According to numbers
With EV, instead of paying for a gallon of gasoline, you get a charge per kilowatt hour of battery charge. And just as gasoline prices at different gas stations vary, the price per kWh varies greatly depending on where you live and, in some states, at times of day and peak. For this reason, it is difficult to say how much charging the EV costs, but here are some averages.
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average new gas vehicle sold in the U.S. in 2020 had a combined fuel consumption and consumption rating of 25.4 miles per gallon. Driving 100 miles in one of these vehicles would consume about 3.9 gallons of gas.
When evaluating electric vehicles, things are a little confusing. The EPA efficiency rating for EV is known as “MPGe”, which means the equivalent of miles per gallon. This assessment gives consumers an idea of how far an EV can travel with an amount of chemical energy equivalent to a gallon of gas.
The same EPA report suggests that the average electric vehicle consumes 33.7 kilowatt hours of energy to match a gallon of regular gasoline. The numbers have not been updated to reflect 2021 or 2022, so it is as close as we can.
The average MPGe rating for the EV for model year 2022 sold in the US is about 97, so driving 100 miles in this hypothetical average vehicle would consume 34.7 kWh of electricity.
Assuming hypothetical gas prices, if you spend $ 4.50 a gallon of gas, it will take almost $ 18 to get 3.9 gallons and drive 100 miles. On average, the national price per 1 kWh of electricity (at home) is around $ 0.14. Using a 34.7 kWh EPA rating with average energy prices, It will cost approximately $ 4.85 to get 3.9 “gallons” of electricity to cover 100 miles.
I know it’s a little confusing, but bottom line is that on average, it will be 3-4 times cheaper to refuel EV from a battery than to refuel a car. These numbers fluctuate, and in some states, such as Arizona, South Dakota, Oklahoma or Washington, electricity is even cheaper, and driving 100 miles in EV would cost around $ 3.47.
So yes, charging EVs from your home is much cheaper than buying gas. However, these savings are quickly reduced when you travel and use public chargers. And in some states, if you use fast chargers, you can spend more, but we’ll get to that below.
The cost of charging an electric car at home
Charging an electric car at home is significantly cheaper than refueling gasoline and is also significantly cheaper than using a public charging station. This is a crucial aspect and something you will want to remember.
On average, most American households pay almost 14 cents per kWh, but that price can double at peak times or in California and New York. On the other hand, this price in Oklahoma is only 10 cents. Still, the average cost is $ 0.14 per kWh, which is much cheaper than gas. Remember that some regions are more expensive.
Using the same math as above, if 100 miles worth about $ 4.85 of electricity worth 3.9 gallons, you can expect to pay less than $ 15 on average for 300 miles in an electric vehicle. Most electric cars have a range of about 300 miles, so filling an electric tank basically costs $ 15. You can’t drive 300 miles in a gas car for $ 15.
The new Ford F-150 Lightning EV truck has a battery with a capacity of 131 kWh. Paying $ 0.14 per kWh at home will cost $ 18.34 to charge the truck to 100% battery capacity. It’s slow and charging at home with a level 1 charger takes 6-8 hours, but it’s cheaper than gas.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to place a charger in your home and faster home chargers, which can cost almost $ 3,000. So add it to your calculations in the long run.
Most EV owners will charge their car at home and sit on the charger overnight. And considering that most regions offer discounts on electricity at night when consumption is low, this is the cheapest place and time to recharge your electric car.
However, installing a home charger may not be possible in some rental homes and apartments. If so, you will need to rely on public charging stations.
EV charging costs on public chargers
If you can’t install an electric car charger at home or plan many trips, you will use public chargers. Things are confusing again, because charging speed and price can vary. Most public charging stations for electric vehicles throughout the United States provide fast charging, which means they are more expensive than a home charger.
Tesla has more than 30,000 Superchargers worldwide, but the average cost is about $ 0.27 per kWh, which is almost double what you would pay at home. And in some states, such as California, Tesla drivers see prices in excess of $ 0.43 per kWh. So instead of $ 15 for 300 miles after charging at home, you spend about $ 44. In some cases, we have seen electricity prices reach more than 50 cents per kWh.
Do you see the difference? It’s absolutely cheaper to charge an electric car than refueling gasoline, but it’s also confusing and the price can vary greatly depending on where you charge, how fast you charge and where you live.
There are more affordable public chargers, but they are also slow. Fast charging stations can discharge the battery from 20-80% in about 25 minutes, but there is a surcharge. Website MyEV has a detailed list of different charging network locations, prices and subscription fees for those interested. You can often join a subscription charging service and get discounted prices, but it won’t be as affordable as charging at home.
And even if you find a slower charging station in public, no one wants to wait an hour to drive just 75-100 miles on battery. As a result, most public stations offer faster, albeit more expensive, charging services.
If you plan to charge your luxury new electric car at home, it will be significantly cheaper than buying gasoline. However, these savings will be somewhat dissipated at public fast charging stations. It’s getting more affordable, but the price of electricity is going up, like everything, so it may not be for long.
But there is a silver rim. Until 2017, Tesla offered free supercharging for most vehicles, which was a huge advantage. We are currently witnessing major car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, which offer two years of free charging with every EV purchase, and Nissan is doing the same. Other brands such as KIA have partnered with Electrify America and will provide owners with a limited free public charge.
It is important to note that not everyone buys an electric car in anticipation of huge savings at the pump. Everyone has their reasons. In addition, when you consider how expensive electric cars are starting to be, you will need to consider your options before moving on.
All in all, your mileage may vary, but that’s usually the case.