By Jonathan Marshall
If you want to know what it’s like traveling back through time, just get behind the wheel of a plug-in electric vehicle. Suddenly the price you’ll be paying for fuel will drop to levels last seen in 2002, more than a decade ago.
According to a new Department of Energy website, the cost of charging an electric vehicle to drive the same distance that a traditional car would run on a gallon of gasoline (28.2 miles for a 2012 model car) amounts to just $1.14, compared to a national average price of $3.65 for gasoline.
The website lets you check prices in your state as well. In California, where electric rates run higher than the national average, the cost of an “eGallon” comes to $1.51. That’s still a remarkable 62 percent savings off the average price of $3.98 for a gallon of gasoline.
“Consumers can see gasoline prices posted at the corner gas station, but are left in the dark on the cost of fueling an electric vehicle,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The eGallon will bring greater transparency to vehicle operating costs, and help drivers figure out how much they might save on fuel by choosing an electric vehicle. It also shows the low and steady price of fueling with electricity,” unlike the frequently volatile price of gasoline.
PG&E customers can go one (or two) better and find out from their utility’s “Plug-In Electric Vehicle Calculator” just how much it would cost per month, under various optional rate plans, to drive any one of 14 different electrified vehicles 40 miles a day. (To get a valid estimate you also have to specify the time of day when you charge up, which can greatly affect the cost.)
For example, charging a Honda Fit EV on PG&E’s EV-A rate plan late at night would cost an average of $138 a month (more in summer, less in winter). Charging a Tesla Model S would cost only a couple of dollars more. In comparison, driving a gasoline-powered vehicle that gets 28 miles to the gallon would cost $171 a month at $4 per gallon.
PG&E’s website, unlike the Department of Energy’s, also tells you how big your carbon footprint would be. The Honda would produce only 1,825 pounds of carbon emissions each year, compared to 10,585 for the traditional vehicle. That should give you a warm glow as you take your fuel savings to the bank.
Email Jonathan Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.