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There are many good reasons to consider an electric vehicle. they generally deliver stellar performance, they’re smooth and quiet to drive, you can do much of your “refueling” at home (meaning you never have to visit a gas station unless you need snacks or a break to go to the bathroom) and have no tailpipe emissions but despite their considerable advantages, ev’s still aren’t for everyone, and they don’t always make the best economic sense.
If you make a living towing earthmoving equipment or hauling gravel, you’ll probably want a heavy-duty diesel pickup, because today’s electric vehicles aren’t enough. Likewise, if you live in an apartment and don’t have parking, let alone a garage with a level 2 charger, an electric vehicle can be a tough sell. But what if you’re looking for relief from high fuel prices? electric vehicles cost much less to “refuel”, although they are often quite expensive at first.
let’s say you have a mid-range 2022 ford f-150 with four wheel drive, the lovely twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter ecoboost v6 and a standard 10-speed automatic transmission, a popular truck configuration in the us . According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this big bad truck has decals of up to 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined; Scary numbers compared to a Toyota Prius, but it’s all relative. For a full-size truck, this kit is fairly inexpensive.
Electric vehicles offer instant torque for rapid acceleration.
but how much does it cost to power this full size truck every year? Well, let’s do a little math to find out. (Scary, I know!) According to AAA, at the time of this writing, the national average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline is about $4.24. This varies greatly from state to state: In California, the price per gallon is around $5.88; On the opposite coast in Maryland, $3.80 is much more reasonable. As reported by insurance comparison site The Zebra, Americans drive an average of 14,263 miles each year. To keep things simple, let’s round up and say you travel 15,000 miles a year in your F-150 and get an average of 21 mpg doing so (EPA’s estimate). dividing 15,000 by 21 means you’re burning about 714 gallons of dinosaur juice per year. there are a myriad of variables on top of that, but we can simply multiply 714 by 4.24, which results in an annual fuel bill of around $3,028. ouch.
Now let’s compare that traditional combustion-powered truck to the exciting all-electric f-150 thunderbolt. In the mid-range xlt trim with the extended-range battery pack, this truck offers an estimated range of 320 miles. Efficiency-wise, this version of the Thunderbolt should return 78 mpge in the city and 63 mpge on the highway, scores that result in a combined rating of 70 mpge. For reference, mpge is a way of quantifying how much energy is in a gallon of gasoline; results in about 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Below, according to the Energy Information Administration, the national average residential cost of electricity in the United States was 13.72 cents per kWh in January 2022; we’ll round up and say 14 cents per kwh. The Thunderbolt’s big battery pack clocks in at a whopping 131 kilowatt-hours, so multiplying that by 0.14 means it would cost about $18.34 to fully recharge this truck from 0 to 100%. this is not something most people are going to do, because who wants to roll into a zero range mag? (plus, if you use public chargers, you’ll probably pay a lot more for the privilege). still, this is illustrative of how affordable it is to run an ev.
the kia ev6 is one of our favorite new electric vehicles.
But now let’s calculate how much it costs to run the beam for a year. We could go with the EPA’s 48 kwh/100 mile estimated efficiency figure, but let’s do it like we did with the old standard f-150. Taking 15,000 miles per year and dividing by 70 mpge, this vehicle’s combined “fuel economy” rating, gives you 214 “gallons” of electricity. then multiply 214 by 33.7, the equivalent number of kWh per gallon of gasoline, and you get about 7,221 kWh. multiply that figure by $0.14 and the result is approximately $1,011 in electricity per year. this is very close to the epa estimate of $950.
So if it costs $3,028 to run the conventionally powered F-150 15,000 miles each year and only $1,011 to turn on the lightning, the all-electric model is only a third more expensive. the annual difference is a not insignificant $2,017. what could you do with an extra two thousand dollars each year?
combustion vs electric
What about revenge time (and I don’t mean revenge)? well, that xlt-tuned lighting with the big battery and no options starts at $74,269, including $1,795 in destination fees. that’s certainly expensive, but the top-notch platinum model is much richer, starting at nearly $93,000. As for our old-fashioned Ford F-150 (a lariat-trimmed, mid-range, crew-cab model with a 5.5-foot bed, four-wheel drive, and the standard equipment group), it’s about $56,020. , which also includes $1,795 per installment. Subtracting $56,020 from $74,269 means the Lightning is a whopping $18,249 more expensive, more than the cost of a new Nissan Versa sedan.
then dividing the price delta between these trucks by the annual electricity/fuel cost difference means you’d have to own the lightning bolt for about nine years for your “fuel” savings to make up the price difference , though if you get a more expensive model, a higher trim f-150, or the same variant with more options, the payback period compared to all-electric lighting will be shorter.
Not surprisingly, the same is true of smaller vehicles. Take the lovely Kia EV6, for example. This sleek and roomy hatchback is a great option for people who want to downsize to a pickup truck and save a lot of change in the process. A long-range, wind-tuned, rear-wheel drive EV6 offers 310 miles of range and stickers at 134 mpg equivalent city, 101 mpge highway, and 117 mpge combined. Calculating the efficiency of the ev6 like we did with the lightning bolt above reveals that the electricity needed to run this vehicle for 15,000 miles should cost around $605 per year, which is very close to the EPA estimate of $550.
Despite the countless advantages of having an electric vehicle, sometimes it makes more sense to keep the combustion vehicle.
comparing our miser ev6 to a mid-range honda accord sport sedan, which is much more efficient than an f-150, is equally revealing. With a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable transmission, and a combined fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, you’d spend about $1,928 on gas to drive this Honda for 15,000 miles…almost 3.2 times as much as the Kia. however, including destination and delivery, the deal is much cheaper at a totally reasonable price of $31,085 compared to the ev6’s price of $48,255. that’s a difference of $17,170, which is a little less than the delta between the standard f-150 and the lightning.
Dividing that figure by $1,323, the annual price difference of running the Accord compared to the Kia, results in a payback period of nearly 13 years. in this case, it may make more sense to keep driving the chord even if you almost pass out every time you fill up the tank.
The entirety of this discussion assumes that you are focused on prioritizing personal finances above all other concerns. but there is a bigger picture to consider: we haven’t even discussed the negative environmental impact that burning fossil fuels or mining for rare earth minerals has on climate change, let alone the many and varied downstream costs that come to house to house society as a result. . those kinds of long-term communal costs are clearly beyond the scope of this article, but worth considering.
After all, there are plenty of good reasons to get an electric vehicle, but if you’re thinking of trading in your internal combustion car or truck for a new electric vehicle just to save money at the pump, be sure to do the math. First, especially if your current trip is paid for, because going online and making a switch may not make economic sense for you, even with fuel prices in the stratosphere.