Are EVs worth it? Study helps calculate savings on emissions, fuel.
How much an EV saves on fuel or cuts greenhouse gas emissions depends on many variables, including gas prices and whether the local electric grid is fed mainly by coal power. The Union of Concerned Scientists helps out with the calculations.
(Page 2 of 2)
An EV owner in Boston would see major emissions savings and a fuel cost savings of about $850 a year, compared with a 27-m.p.g. conventional vehicle. An EV owner Oklahoma City, where electricity prices are lower, would save $1,150 a year. But emissions improvement for the Oklahoma EV owner would be only about half that of the New England EV driver because of the region's larger reliance on coal power.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
EVs cost more upfront, but they also are a buffer against rising gasoline prices. For each 50-cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year, the study says.
Today an EV driver could use 6,100 fewer gallons of gasoline and save nearly $13,000 on fuel over the life of the vehicle compared with the average new compact car. Savings are less dramatic, however, when EVs are compared with high-mileage standard hybrids or high-mileage conventional vehicles.
That means consumers will still have some of their own calculating to do. Will the EV's substantial fuel savings be enough to cover their higher sticker prices? The Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car, costs about $32,000, and the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle, which has a big electric motor and small gasoline range extending engine, costs about $39,000, according to Edmunds.com. Would that $13,000 fuel savings make up for the higher cost of a Leaf or Volt?
Charging an EV in Florida and across most of Texas yields global warming emissions equivalent to a 46- to 47-m.p.g. gasoline vehicle – about the same fuel economy level as vehicles like the Honda Civic Hybrid (44 m.p.g.) and Toyota Prius Hybrid (50 m.p.g.). Those two vehicles cost about $24,000 and $23,000, respectively, says Edmunds.com. Even if fuel savings on the Leaf or Volt beats those hybrid vehicles in the long run, how the math works out in the end depends on how long an owner keeps the EV.
In short, there's no one-size-fits-all answer when assessing whether an EV is worth it. But the UCS findings provide useful rules of thumb and a basis for knowing if an electric vehicle makes environmental and cost sense where you live, its experts say.
“This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption,” Mr. Anair said.
RECOMMENDED: Gas prices: 10 ways you can save at the pump
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.