From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.
What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.
Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106 per week in mixed driving, totaling about $425 per month.
The question is: What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5,100 per year?
If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (mpd) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)
Suzy: Her Hybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 miles per gallong (mpg) city driving and 45 mpg highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc. are not included in these figures.)
Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.
Scenario A: If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.
Scenario B: If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the United States. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)
It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 electric vehicle chargers in the United States as of January 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.
Now, what to do with that extra $5,100 each and every year?
Author’s Note: These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30-minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!