Electric Car Operating CostsYou have probably heard all kinds of figures quoted and bandied around about the new electric cars. The Volt is one of these cars that is now out on the market and we were wondering what it really does cost to drive one of these cars and how they compare to the traditional gasoline cars. We have always been able to depend on EPA fuel standards to tell us how cars compared in using gasoline but what about electric vehicles. There are three kinds of vehicles now. There is the standard gasoline or diesel driven vehicle. There are the hybrids that have both gasoline and electric driven power trains and then there are the pure electric cars that need to b charged every night.

Electric Car Operating Costs

Miles Per Gallon Equivalent

The Volt is supposed to get 99 miles per gallon equivalent, while the Nissan Leaf gets 93 MPGe. These figures come from recognized government agencies who look at this kind of thing and provide a way for us consumers to compare one type of car with another that has a totally different power source.

Combined Efficiency Numbers

When a car like the Volt is running on electricity it is supposed to be able to get 99MPGe, however it can only do this for an estimated 35 miles on a full charge. After that the gasoline engine takes over and provides power to the batteries which takes the cost up and the MPGe down to approximately 37 MPG. Depending on the mix of driving you do on average this combined number will vary a great deal. Again the government people suggest on average a driver should expect 60MPGe. This number will vary greatly depending on your driving habits.

How Does the Consumer Really Know What the Efficiency Is

For me it all comes down to dollars. We can figure out what the cost per mile is for a regular car simply by taking the total cost to fill up a tank full of gas and dividing that by how far we can drive on that tank of gas. Some people will go further than others based on their own driving habits. Consumers can figure their own personal numbers out on their own.

The same applies to hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Monitor your electrical usage and the associated cost. Next divide the cost by the number of miles you can drive or have driven and you will have a valid comparison of the cost per mile.

Fortunately the experts have done this for us and we do not have to track all of these numbers. It appears that a Nissan Leaf would cost about $561 a year if driven 15,000 miles. A  Nissan Versa which is a similar sized car power by gasoline is going to cost approximately $1444 per year if it is also driven 15000 miles. This is a savings of almost $900 per year! The Chevrolet Volt is calculated to cost about $600 a year and the Cheverolet Cruze about $1600 a year or a savings of about a $1000 a year.

Should Consumers Purchase an Electric Vehicle

The other factors that need to be considered are the original cost to purchase these vehicles after government subsidies are include must also be compared. The electric and hybrid car costs more than the traditional gasoline powered cars due to the economies of scale. There are hundreds of thousands of them being manufactured every year. It will be several years before you break even on the cost of the car with the decreased operating costs.

The other two important factors to consider is how well they hold their value when it comes time to trade or sell them and what the long term maintenance costs will be when you take into account the batteries which must be replaced at some point. The jury is still out on these numbers.


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