3/24/2011 12:39 PM ET|
Is an electric car right for you?
The idea is intriguing, but you wonder about cost. And just how different is driving a plug-in? Here's a frank point-by-point comparison with other vehicles.
During President Barack Obama's most recent State of the Union address, he set a number of goals for "winning the future." Among them was his hope that America would have 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.
It's an ambitious goal, and not only because electric cars have just recently begun rolling onto U.S. car lots. Still, with unrest in the Arab world driving up oil prices once again, there's sure to be renewed interest in vehicles that are not tethered to the gas pump. The question, then, is whether this first generation of electric cars makes sense for the average U.S. consumer.
The cost of ownership
The biggest factor in this determination is economic. While much of the appeal of electric cars is environmental -- Nissan has repeatedly stressed that its Leaf is "zero emission" -- no vehicle is going to have mass appeal simply because its green credentials are in order. Americans vote with their wallets, so MainStreet set out to determine how electric cars stack up against the competition.
To do so, we compared the cost of ownership of three midsize hatchbacks. Representing electric cars is the aforementioned Nissan Leaf; the Toyota Prius is our hybrid; and standard gas vehicles are represented by the Volkswagen Golf.
Our findings (summarized in the graphic below) took various factors into account. Starting with the manufacturer's suggested retail price for the base model of each car, the Leaf was far and away the most expensive of the group, followed by the Prius.
|The real cost of an electric car (assuming 100,000 miles of use)||Electric: Nissan Leaf||Hybrid: Toyota Prius||Gas: Volkswagen Golf|
|Tax credit for electric car purchase:||Up to $7,500 (plus additional credits in select states)||None (expired Dec. 31, 2010); some state incentives may still apply||N/A|
|Recharging station and installation:||$2,200||N/A||N/A|
|Tax credit for charging station purchase:||$1,000||N/A||N/A|
|Fuel costs:||$2,600 in electricity costs to travel 100,000 miles||100,000 miles on 2,000 gallons of gas: about $6,774||100,000 miles on 3,703 gallons of gas: about $12,542|
|Total cost of ownership:||$29,080||$29,284||$32,297|
|Sources: FuelEconomy.gov, AAA|
We also looked at costs and savings specific to electric vehicles. Most notably, the federal government offers a tax incentive of up to $7,500 when you buy a qualified electric car, a list that currently includes the Leaf, the Tesla Roadster and the Chevy Volt (a plug-in electric hybrid).
In addition, some states will give you a tax credit for purchasing an electric car. California, for instance, will give you up to $5,000 back on your state taxes, while Colorado will credit you $6,000.
Of course, electric vehicles require the purchase of an accessory that no other car needs: a home charging station, which costs approximately $2,200 to install. But there's a federal tax incentive for that, too, with a $1,000 tax credit for people who install a home charging station.
That brings us to fuel costs, which is where electric and hybrid cars get back much of their upfront cost. Assuming gas prices stay constant and you drive 100,000 miles over the life of the car, the 26-mpg Golf will cost you more than $12,000 dollars to keep fueled. The Prius, with approximately double the fuel economy, will cost about half as much.
The Leaf, of course, does not require gasoline -- that's the point -- but it still must be powered somehow. The main variable here is not gasoline costs but electricity costs, which vary based on where you live, who provides your electricity and at what time you charge your car.
"Most people are going to be charging this thing at night," said a Nissan spokesman, and working on the assumption that most owners will do it during off-peak hours, the company assumes an average rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour to charge the Leaf. That translates to about 2.6 cents per mile, which means it will cost slightly more than $2,600 to keep your car on the road for 100,000 miles.
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"Unrest in the Arab world" isn't driving up the oil prices, its the speculators dirving up the prices. We need MORE government regulation. Especially in this area!
You forgot the biggest problem. The replacement cost of the batteries, we don't all trade our cars in every year.
All batteries have a lifetime. No one ever talks about the cost. I'll bet it is substantial.
Fuel is a world commodity. So when oil is up, the value of the rest of the fuels tends to go up with it.
Unless we are gathering solar power, we are pretty much doing the same old thing but in a different way with the advent of electric cars.
The electric car will never be affordable to the average American family, not even as an in town vehicle. This is my first and main concern. Who can afford $32,000 or even $19,000, for a around town car only, even a a second car? It would be like driving your golf card to the Grocery Store. And if the battery ran low, where can I charge it at this time? Think of the cost of financing one.
The second concern I have is in the length of time these batteries will last. When checking with the manufactures on the life of the batteries, they stated that they would last the length of the cars life, which after a long pause they estimated to be (8) years. 8 years?? I am driving a 1994 Ranger XLT, 4 cylinder. (going on seventeen years) I only get 22 mpg at this time (which I was happy with). When these manufacturers were again asked the estimated cost of the batteries, they hemmed and hawed and finally stated that they could not give even an estimate of the cost because there is no data, because they have not been in use long enough to answer that question. I guess it will depend on how many are sold and how much profit they can add on to their original cost. No way no how would I ever think of owning one, with that kind of information.
I love the BS in the article. Nissan timidly refused to acknowledge the $5000 cost to replace the battery pack every 3-5 years, because it would destroy this carefuly constructed piece of propaganda.
Another artfully constructed morcel of misinformation is that Nissan can barely keep-up with the deman? What demand? They sold total of 19 Leafs in December of 2010. Just thought you should know.
Call a solar installer in your area, and they can run the numbers for you for the capital expense, local and federal incentives and buy back power rates from your electrical provider. Then call Chevy, and give them your expected mileage. That will give your expected consumption. The rest is just math.
What's nice about the buyback system is while your car is at work, your solar installation is pumping power in, spinning your meter backward. When you plug the car in at night, and your panel is not generating, you get power back from the grid. The grid is not a battey, but it serves the same purpose as far as your bill is concerned..
Finaly, depending on where you live, get a Charge Point card. You can see the local filling stations. Many are free. Our mal in the area has a dozen stations, and to promote the technology, the cost is currently free. This will change eventualy, but free for now. try mychargepoint dot net
I own a Ford Explorer, which I've had for 13 years, and it has 200,000 miles on it. I love it, it's been a great car, and never needed repair. I paid about 45K for it way back then, but it turned out to be a good investment.
Now, let's say I would purchase the same car today and drive it until 2024 (13 years). I get 17 MPG, and let's say over the next 13 years gas averages 4 dollars per gal. (my guess is that it's going to be WAY more than that in the future, but let's be conservative...
200,000 mi / 17 mpg = 11,765 gal of gas at 4 dollars = $47,000 in fuel.
So my next car will be a Tesla S series. Even though the car will run betweeen 50 and 60K, the "fuel" cost will be about 1/6th at $4.00 per galon, and will drop proportionaly as gas goes up.
The electric vehicle then is MUCH cheaper to own. I spend 75 bucks a week on fuel today. Equivilent electricity would be less than 12 bucks where I live. When I ran the numbers, the answer to the question "Can I afford this car", became simple. I can't afford to NOT have an electric car.
Further to my earlier post. The figures published by the California Energy Commission describe our energy growth of demand to be about 6%, while our development of new sources is about 1.5% "Peaking" power load fulfillment is way below the required capacity
Enter D S M That stands for Demand Side Management. It looks like this : as the inefficiencies of the infrastructure cost us about 300% (meaning it takes about 3 KW generated to deliver 1 KW at the use point) by reducing the load at the use point(s) we can exponentially save at the rate of 3 to 1. This means reducing our demand has a marvelous effect of reducing the load development significantly. I don't get how increasing the load by charging all electric vehicles works to help us at all, because every KW of increase of charging all electric cars increases the development of energy requirement by 3 KW - in an already short supply system
Yes, you have quoted a common figure prepared and delivered by - power plant producers
I have libraries of statistics and the 6.5% loss is in there - but largely disputed. Time Magazine just recently, in an energy themed issue, talked specifically about the 3 - being generated (as opposed to - efficiency of generation, which I agree - is abysmal), 2- to disburse, and 1 - resulting delivery ratio. Frankly it is picking nits, but that's o.k. At least there is an awareness. And - at any rate your numbers and the ones I used still say roughly the same thing - 3 to produce and 1 delivered, therefore every KW saved in usage is triple saved in non required production, both in facilities and in production capacity out the delivery door
Something fun for you to figure - if the production efficiency is added to this equation, let's say 33% and the delivery after production is truly about 3 to 1 - what is the resulting actual loss ?
--- and therefore - isn't it really, really fun to recognize how much coal burning we would save from each exponentially effective KW not consumed ? ! ? I certainly concur with the precept that energy conservation, either through non-use or efficiency of use, is far and away the most cost and other effective direction
The net message - electric cars are dirty and increasing a low efficient load
Thanks for caring and for your input
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