Switching from a gas-powered car to an electric car saves you money.
It's cheaper to drive a mile on electricity and electric cars require less service.
It is cheaper to drive a mile on electricity than it is to drive a mile on gasoline and electricity prices are much less volatile than gas prices. Though your electricity costs will go up if you’re charging your EV at home, your gas costs will go down by more. We've done some math to demonstrate cost savings and found that, by switching from the average new gas-powered car to the average new all-electric vehicle, the average Massachusetts or Rhode Island driver will save:
- 3.38 cents per mile
- $402 per year or $34 per month
Due to the recent drop in gasoline prices, these savings are a bit lower than the Union of Concerned Scientists' cost savings estimate of about $558/year for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which you can access here.
Considered another way, a new gas-powered car would have to get more than 67 miles per gallon in order to be cheaper per mile than the average new electric vehicle. See our methodology here to learn more. And remember, those savings are from fuel costs alone – they don’t include all the service (so long, oil changes!) that EVs don’t require (see below for more info).
Ultimately, the cost of driving an EV for you will depend on (a) your electricity costs and (b) how much power your EV uses, which will depend on a couple of things:
- The efficiency of the vehicle: Some EVs take you further on a kilowatt-hour (kWh) than others. The range from highest to lowest is not as wide as we see for gasoline-powered cars (i.e. the difference between a Prius and a Hummer).
- How much you drive it: More miles, more power required!
- How you drive it: Driving fast will create more friction and that will increase your electricity usage, just as with a gasoline car. Using regenerative breaking or your EV's eco-mode will increase the number of miles you get per kilowatt-hour.
You can take a look at our Methodology and plug in your own numbers to get a better idea of what kind of savings you can expect by switching to a new EV.
Vehicle Cost Calculator
To do the math for yourself, we recommend the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center Vehicle Cost Calculator.
Servicing your vehicle
Electric vehicles require much less service than gas-powered cars, so switching from a gas guzzler to an EV offers significant savings in service. Electric motors do not require any regular maintenance. For pure electric vehicles, gone is the need for oil changes and maintenance of things like spark plugs, timing belts, or any of the other hundreds of moving parts of an internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles do require the replacement of worn out tires and brake pads, but you can expect brake pads to last much longer than on a comparable gas-powered car, thanks to regenerative braking.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2017 Going from Pump to Plug report, maintenance of a Chevrolet Sonic will cost about $1,500 more than maintenance of a Chevrolet Bolt. The American Automobile Association estimated that the average EV will save $2,100 compared to a similar-sized gas-powered car when driven 150,000 miles.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles require more maintenance than pure electric vehicles because they do still have an internal combustion engine. However, they are still cheaper to maintain than gas-powered cars because they are more efficient and use technologies like regenerative braking that minimize wear and tear of the system.
Learn more about EV maintenance on the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center's EV maintenance page.
Report: Going From Pump to Plug 2017
The Union of Concerned Scientists added up the savings from electric vehicles and found they're cheaper to fuel and drive than gas-powered cars.
Posted November 2017
A note on upfront costs
The average new electric car is cheaper than the average new gas-powered car when you take all of the available incentives into account. Though the sticker price of a new electric vehicle is still above that of a new gas-powered car, EVs qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 and, in Massachusetts, the state MOR-EV rebate of $1,500. Our Drive Green discounts stack on top of those incentives.