Thanks to the likes of Elon Musk and Tesla, in the last few years electric vehicles (EVs) have become more widespread than ever before. With impressive safety, advances in battery technology and growing charging infrastructure, EVs are increasingly attractive to average drivers. Depending on your personal driving situation, an electric vehicle may pay for itself faster than you would think when compared to an equivalent gasoline vehicle.
Using this calculator
This calculator is intended to help you understand how much you could save by going with an electric vehicle the next time you are looking to purchase a new ride.
Simply adjust the inputs above and then your annual savings and break even point on your purchase will be automatically calculated!
- Miles driven per year is your average expected driving mileage per year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives around 13,500 miles every year.
- Local gas price can vary widely by city and state. GasBuddy.com is a great resource for finding the best gas price in your area. The average gas price in the USA in 2021 is around $3.00 per gallon
- Local electricity rate is the rate in dollars per kiloWatt hour (kWh) that you pay for electricity to charge your electric vehicle.
- How often will you use free charging? Adjust this slider to factor in any opportunities for free EV charging that you would plan to take advantage of with your EV. For example, you may be able to charge your EV for free at your workplace or find free public charging stations using PlugShare.com. Selecting 100% means that you are using all free charging and never charging at home.
- Battery capacity is the full charging capacity of your prospective EV in kiloWatt hours (kWh).
- Range is the distance your prospective EV can travel on a full battery charge.
- EV purchase price is the all-in purchase price of your EV after factoring in any tax credits that you may be eligible for. Check out FuelEconomy.gov to see what tax credits you may qualify for with your EV purchase.
- Average gas mileage is the fuel efficiency in miles per gallon (MPG) of a comparable gas vehicle.
- Gas vehicle purchase price is the all-in purchase price of a comparable gas vehicle.
Here's how to understand the results:
- Break even point is how long it takes for the fuel savings from your electric vehicle to make up for the difference in price between an electric vehicle and an equivalent gas vehicle. For example, if your break even point is 4 years, then after 4 years you will have "broken even" on your EV purchase meaning that your savings on fuel have already paid for the difference in purchase price. The lower your break even point, the better. Since the average driver keeps a new car for 6 years, you should aim to have a break even point that is less than 6 years.
- Annual electricity cost is the yearly cost of electricity to charge your electric vehicle.
- Annual gas cost is the yearly cost of fuel to drive your gasoline vehicle.
- Annual EV savings is the yearly fuel cost savings that you would experience by driving an electric vehicle rather than a gas vehicle. Annual EV savings = annual gas cost - annual electricity cost.
Advantages of electric vehicles
- They are flat-out fun to drive. A unique quality of EVs is that they produce instant peak torque, meaning that you have maximum acceleration and power the moment you step on the gas pedal. This translates to a level of responsiveness and smoothness in daily driving that gas cars simply cannot match. Joe Rogan stated it elegantly: "I think a Tesla is the most fun thing you could possibly ever buy."
- Lower fuel costs compared to gasoline vehicles. As you can see in this calculator, EVs can offer impressive savings on fuel, especially if you have access to free charging.
- Lower maintenance costs and less frequent maintenance. Since they don't have a gas engine, electric vehicles do not require oil changes or any other maintenance/repairs associated with traditional gas engines. Because they use regenerative braking, EVs are also typically easier on your brakes, leading to fewer brake replacements.
- Carpool (HOV) lane access. In some states like California, driving an electric vehicle can allow you to drive in a Carpool lane (aka High Occupancy Vehicle / HOV) even when you are driving by yourself. Since traffic can often move much faster in the HOV lane during rush hour, this is a coveted benefit that can save you valuable time over the ownership of your vehicle.
Downsides of electric vehicles
- Shorter range than gas vehicles. In general, EVs can travel a much shorter distance on a full charge than a comparable gas vehicle can travel on a full tank. For example, the base model Tesla Model 3 offers up to 263 miles of driving range, while a base model Toyota Corolla can go about 435 miles on a full tank.
- Recharging the battery takes time. Depending on your power source, it can take several hours to charge your EVs battery while filling up your gas tank takes just a few minutes. On the fast side, Tesla's V3 Supercharger can fill a Tesla Model 3 from 5% to 90% full in about 37 minutes. However if you are charging with a standard 120V home power outlet, it could take as much as 30 hours to fully top up your battery.
- Having to plan around charging infrastructure. While EV charging networks are growing rapidly in recent years, charging infrastructure is still limited in many parts of the country. This means driving an electric vehicle can introduce headaches when planning a roadtrip and could limit the routes you can travel. When you consider the point above about the time it takes to recharge the battery, you may find that an EV is less than ideal for roadtrips.
- Higher upfront price than gasoline cars. When you start shopping around for EVs, it quickly becomes apparent that they cost a premium compared to gas vehicles. Depending on your annual driving mileage, the break even point for switching to an EV may be longer than you plan to keep the car, so it wouldn't make financial sense.