Like them or not, electric vehicles are gaining in popularity. Car manufacturers produce more electric versions of existing models and create new ones built from the ground up to run on batteries. Expect to see more EVs on the road with each passing year.
While battery range is going up and charging times are going down, the infrastructure is not there yet. You can install a charger at home so your EV can get you to work the next day, but what if you want to drive beyond its range? Tap or click here to hear Kim’s take.
When it comes to the advantage of owning an EV, one of the most popular notions is that it’s cheaper to charge one than it is to fill an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle with gas. While it may appear so, other factors need to be considered to deduct the final cost of topping off an EV.
Here’s the backstory
Anderson Economic Group recently released a report about the costs of fueling EVs and ICE vehicles. The company has served as a consultant to numerous businesses and worked with automotive manufacturers and distributors, suppliers, trade associations and dealers.
“The cost to fuel a vehicle, ICE or electric, is a substantial part of the total cost of ownership,” the report reads. The group went beyond government data on fuel costs and economy to include consumer experiences and cost burdens.
Refueling stops were measured with stopwatches, customers were interviewed about their residential and commercial charging experience, forums were reviewed for more consumer reports and purchase prices were taken into account along with actual driving and fueling experiences in an EV.
The AEG study produced four key findings.
1. There are more costs to owning an EV beyond charging it
- Commercial chargers include fees that can double or triple what you would spend at a residential charger.
- In many states, an additional EV tax is imposed for road construction and maintenance.
- You usually get a Level 1 charger with your EV purchase, which uses a standard outlet at home. If you want a Level 2 charger, you’ll have to purchase it separately and get it professionally installed.
- You typically have to drive further to find a commercial charger.
- Time is money and you’re going to spend more time finding a commercial charger and waiting for the process to complete.
2. EVs can cost more to fuel
Researchers at AEF gathered six categories of EV and ICE cars in the entry-level, mid-priced and luxury segments to compare refueling costs. This finding took the following into account:
- Some EV drivers primarily use commercial chargers while others use residential chargers.
- The retail price of gasoline inclusive of road taxes and cost of operating the pump and the cost of electricity at commercial and residential chargers inclusive of registration taxes.
- The burden of deadhead miles for EVs.
Once these were factored in, the study concluded that EVs often cost more to fuel than similar ICE vehicles. In Michigan, for example, it costs between $8 and $12 to drive 100 miles in an ICE vehicle, and it costs between $12 and $15 to do the same in an EV.
3. EV fueling costs vary widely
The analysis took commercial and residential rates into account and showed that fueling costs for EVs vary more than they do for ICE vehicles.
- Commercial charger rates are often double or triple residential rates. Residential rates can change 50% or more due to Time-of-Use rates. Gas prices vary by about 10% by comparison.
- Charging speed changes depending on the type of charger and its working status, how much juice is in the battery and temperature.
- Prices at commercial chargers can include an additional per session cost in addition to the standard per kWh cost.
4. The burden of time
Finding a commercial fast charger and waiting for your EV to charge puts a time investment on you under even the best circumstances.
- The study found that it takes 20 minutes for a typical EV driver in a non-rural area to find a reliable DC fast charger. Add 20-30 minutes to this for the charging process. Slower L2 chargers are more common but can take hours.
- EV drivers have to deal with chargers breaking down, software bugs, syncing issues between their mobile apps and charger and the charger itself being slower than advertised.
Researchers experienced these problems firsthand, which were compounded by the comments they found from frustrated EV owners in online forums.
So the verdict of the report is that EVs actually cost more to fuel right now because of added costs of equipment, varying charging fees and time involved. This will improve with time, but at the moment we’re not quite there yet.
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