Well, so much for “economical” electric vehicles…


It seems that electric vehicles (the pure-electric variety, not hybrids) aren’t as economical as they’re cracked up to be.

Costs to drive an EV compared with a gasoline car are detailed in a report Anderson Economic released Thursday called “Comparison: Real World Cost of Fueling EVs and ICE Vehicles.”

The study has four major findings:

  • There are four additional costs to powering EVs beyond electricity: cost of a home charger, commercial charging, the EV tax and “deadhead” miles.
  • For now, EVs cost more to power than gasoline costs to fuel an internal combustion car that gets reasonable gas mileage.
  • Charging costs vary more widely than gasoline prices.
  • There are significant time costs to finding reliable public chargers — even then a charger could take 30 minutes to go from 20% to an 80% charge.

It is the first of a series of reports Anderson Economic Group will release. It started the project — an independent report — more than six months ago.

. . .

“Part of the strength of the analysis is we’re showing the real-world costs that EV drivers face,” Anderson said. “You typically have to go to a commercial charger and commercial charger rates are two, three or four times that of residential charger rates.”

Then, there is the time to drive around to find a commercial charger, time that Anderson dubs “deadhead miles.” Even charging at home on a Level 1 or Level 2 charger is time consuming and expensive.

The study found that the average cost of a Level 1 charger is $600. To install a Level 2 costs $1,600 because it requires hiring an electrician. An L1 charger uses a 120-volt supply of electricity and can take 20 or more hours to charge, whereas an L2 chargers uses 240 volts and can charge in a few hours.

Anderson’s report considers four costs beyond the cost of residential electricity when calculating how much it costs to drive an EV: 

  • Cost of the residential charger
  • Cost of commercial electricity
  • An annual EV tax, which in Michigan ranges from $135 to $235, depending on the vehicle model. This is to make up for not paying a gas tax.
  • Deadhead miles to get to a fast charger

Given all of that, the conclusion is EVs cost more to “fuel” than gasoline cars that get reasonable gas mileage, Anderson said. It all depends on how the car is used and how much commercial charging is involved.

A mid-priced internal combustion car that gets 33 miles per gallon would cost $8.58 in overall costs to drive 100 miles at $2.81 a gallon, the study found. But a mid-priced EV, such as Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf or a Tesla Model 3, would cost $12.95 to drive 100 miles in terms of costs that include recharging the vehicle using mostly a commercial charger.

On a yearly basis, assuming the mid-priced cars traveled 12,000 miles, it would cost  $1,030 to drive an internal combustion car and $1,554 to drive an EV.

There’s more at the link.

I’ve always suspected that, ever since the first “pure” EV’s came out.  The need for a high-performance charging station to top them up during the day is a huge drawback, given that there aren’t many such stations except in major urban centers (and even there they aren’t yet common).  A hybrid EV makes a lot more sense, where a smaller motor charges the battery as you drive, making you independent of plug-in charging stations.

For me, and for many who live in more rural areas, the biggest drawback to EV’s is their range on a full charge.  Unless and until one can give me 500 miles in regular use on a single charge, fully loaded with passengers and cargo, while towing a travel trailer, it won’t be of any real use to me.  I’d say that sort of practical range is years away, although the scientists may surprise me.



  1. I'm with you. EVs are town cars, you need a Hybrid (or plug-in hybrid) to get the range we expect from a gas powered vehicle.

    I'm not running your load (less payload and no trailer) but my 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid AWD gets me over 400 miles of real range in highway driving with about 100 miles indicated when I get to my destination. With the right traffic I've seen over 600 miles total predicted range. Getting 0% ethanol gasoline helps immensely.

    My reference trip is a 400 mile run with about 8,000 ft of total climbing with two people and a 100 pounds of internal load…

  2. Well made points. Electric vehicles make little sense for the average driver for a myriad of reasons beyond just the fuel cost per mile, as you've mentioned in previous posts. However, I do feel that 500 miles is a bit optimistic for any vehicle. In my experience, most non-commercial gasoline and diesel vehicles have tanks sized for a touch over 400 miles for the average user. Max gross and towing? 350 at best unless you're talking about a full-size pickup with extended/dual tanks. P.S. Love both your and your wife's books. Glad to hear that more is forthcoming.

  3. The numbers show that the subject report is wildly out-of-date. It uses a gas price of S2.81 per gallon. Even if state and local taxes are not included, that is not what people pay these days.

  4. Diesel-electric with regenerative braking seems the most logical efficient vehicle. Even the diesel fuel could be synthetic, made in a factory powered by nuclear reactor.

    To make the idea even more attractive, the base chassis can be skinned in whatever exterior you fancy, and is designed to be easily user-serviced/modified and engineered for lifetime durability.

    And these ideas will NEVER be permitted.

  5. The largest issue (which is just now getting the focus it deserves) is energy storage capacity loss. Long term, batteries are terrible for retaining storage capacity with heavy use. Your 500 mile charge will be down to 400 miles after a single year. You can ruin them even quicker if you aren't extremely careful. Charge them while they are hot from high drain and you can lop off large percentages of their storage capacity all at once.
    Car and Driver recently published an article about how badly the batteries in their test Tesla are performing:
    This is not a fluke. Even hybrid vehicles wear out their batteries, and replacement can be up to 1/4 of the overall value of the vehicle when it was new. Replacing the batteries on a used hybrid is usually economically nonsensical.
    Oh, and those batteries themselves? Yet another nearly exclusive product of Asia.
    Without a government mandate and heavy subsidies, I doubt EVs would be anything but a niche product for heavily urbanized areas.

    1. Don't forget the lose of charge in cold weather and the fire hazard that lithium batteries are.
      You aren't supposed to park and electric or hybrid vehicles in parking garages due to the heat and fumes from a fire.

  6. I've always kind of wondered why there weren't more diesel hybrids (as suggested by one of the previous commenters). One of diesel's classic issues is slower response than it's gasoline relatives, superchargers can help with that but they tend to be breakage prone. Electric is perfect for boosts with it's high torque. No more 15 second 0-60 times. The other big change is CV (continuously variable) transmissions. Diesel engines run best if kept in a small band of RPM, the CV transmission would let you maintain that band getting optimal mileage. Combined with electric a small (4 or 3 cylinder) diesel of 60-90 HP can do a lot. Heck vintage early 1960 trucks top out in the low hundred BHP range. Most of what they did the did with many gears and the CV transmission gives you that. Of course there is still the battery lifetime and disposal issue.

    As for pure electrics anywhere north of the Mason Dixon line there is an additional issue. You need heat in your car much of the year and in an electric that comes from the stored electricity reducing your range further. On top of that current generation batteries need to be well above freezing to charge efficiently. That means a heated garage or similar for the charging station. Only the wealthy will be able to afford all that which appears to be exactly what the SJW eco freaks want. They want the nomenklatura driving around in their electric equivalent of a ZIL while the res of us use buses,trains and/or shanks mare and we proles stay in our place.

  7. The whole concept of replacing the fossil fuel fleet with electric is pure nonsense, you can do the maths to prove it. Enough rare earth metals and lithium? Not for everyone!

    The range issue comes down to energy density, 1 litre of petrol (gasoline if you prefer) yields 33,000 to 36,000 kilojoules. Lithium batteries vary wildly depending on their chemistry but lets go with LiFePO4 and plucking figures from wikipedia they quote 790 kilojoules per litre as a volumetric energy density.

    Of course an internal combustion engine only has about 26% efficiency, everything else is lost as noise, friction and heat which is why an electric car can compete pretty well as they're more like 80% efficient. Are they cool? Sure. Is everyone going to be able to have one? Absolutely not. Is that the plan all along? Most likely *cough*great reset*cough*

  8. C'mon man. Don't you know that doesn't matter? It's all about virtue signalling and saving the planet no matter the cost

  9. ..Not only go 500 mi, but refuel/recharge in under 10 min. Or maybe Holiday Inn needs to sponsor charging stations…

  10. Unknown way above there talking about higher gas prices. Yes, gas prices are climbing, thanks to Brandon, but so are coal, natural gas, biofuels, fuel oil, solar systems, wind-energy, wave-energy, water energy (especially in places where there is a drought) and so forth and so on.

    Gas and diesel are still the most energy 'full' per cost of any fuel, short of nuclear. Which we should have had decades ago, smaller more efficient plants using newer technology that has been developed, oh, since the 60's.

    EV vehicles bite the big one. Simple as that. Take the tax breaks and other financial supports out of the equation, and suddenly that 'great' EV becomes a financial boondoggle.

  11. "there aren't many such stations except in major urban centers (and even there they aren't yet common)"

    For the Teslas, the situation is marginally better than that, in that outside the major metro areas you can find a supercharger station every hundred miles or so along most interstate routes, and a few of the more rural routes that see heavy tourist traffic. So if you're driving from metro area to metro area a Tesla is reasonably viable.

    OTOH, if you want to drive out to a "rural" destination, and drive around the vicinity for several days, then drive home, you may be out of luck. Or make a several hundred mile trip along non-interstates. For example, Witchita, KS to Pueblo, CO is well over four hundred miles, and between them there are no supercharger stations, nor is there one when you reach Pueblo. And US 50 across Nevada and Utah, where it is almost seven hundred miles between Supercharger stations.

    So while electric vehicles may be a good fit for many Americans, they are nowhere near a good fit for many, either.

  12. Everyone seems to be ignoring the elephant in the room.
    Somebody needs to run the numbers to find at what percentage of replacement of traditional ICE vehicles with electrics the power drain brings the grid to its knees.
    I suspect as low as 10%, certainly no greater that 20% and that fancy green runabout becomes a very expensive lawn ornament because you will be unable to draw sufficient power for a recharge, certainly not at your convenience on your schedule.

  13. The other thing that people don't think about is the manufacturing and materials. The amount of rare-earth metals used in the batteries is tremendous.

    I cannot speak to Tesla, but I have a vague understanding of the earlier Prius manufacturing.

    * Nickel is mined and refined in either Canada or China and shipped to Japan on a ship burning bunker oil to be made into a battery.

    * A bunch of new parts are manufactured and shipped to be assembled.

    * Once the Car is built it is then loaded on to a Roll on/Roll off and shipped across the pacific. That ship also burns the cheapest fuel available.

    The environmental impact from the manufacture and transport of your "green" hybrid car is tremendous. The most efficient part of the the whole thing is probably the rail transport that takes them from the ports.

    They only make sense if you are going to keep the car for 10 years and drive a bunch of miles – otherwise you are better off getting a regular car that gets 30+ on the highway.

  14. Uncle Lar, it's already been done. Given a neighborhood of 20 or so houses, more than 2 EVs per typical neighborhood will strain the standard local grid. 5 or more will threaten it. 8 or more will destroy the grid.

    Only in the 2000's were most houses wired for more than 120 amps. Think of what's in the house of most people who can afford an EV. dish washers and washing machines and dryers, hot water heaters, HVAC, computers (especially gaming or high end video computers) and big screen tvs, all draw lots of power. Then you add those 6 burner cooktops, dual ovens, microwaves, blowdryers, styling wands and all the other electric thingamabobs that suck power. You can quickly meet or exceed 120 amps with modern electric usage. Now add an EV charging to that. And the distribution grid is designed for the max amp load of the neighborhood at whatever their initial electric panels were designed for. 20 houses at 120amps plus a bid more for safety. Now add 5 to 8 EVs, and those houses having to get their breaker box upgraded, you've now easily maxed out the amps of the distribution.

    It's not just me saying this. Toyota and Tesla have both said this. That until the grid is upgraded and powerplants are upgraded, we're rapidly reaching the breaking point of the grid in some places, especially the places that refuse to upgrade (like California…)

  15. TheOtherSean, did you know that Tesla can "cancel" you? I.e. you won't be able to use a Supercharger, only regular chargers. Happened to RichRebuilds on youtube.

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