Ecocentricity Blog: Pennies on the Dollar

Ecocentricity Blog: Pennies on the Dollar

By: John A. Lanier


Fuel costs for electric vehicles kick the pants off of internal combustion engine vehicles (same goes for maintenance costs, by the way).

Monday, June 3, 2019 - 10:15am

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Have we talked about how much of a nerd I am? Oh, we have? That many times, huh? Alright then, what’s one more?

Today’s flavor of nerdiness is…mathematics! It was my favorite subject as a kid. I’m guessing that is because I am wired to like correct answers (still am!). No other subject is as objective as math, and I took comfort in knowing exactly when I was right and when I was wrong.
I still like math, and I often find myself calculating things in everyday life just to scratch that particular itch. For example, I recently took our new car in for its first service. It’s a Chevrolet Bolt, and I was curious how much money we had spent in total on the fuel charges for the first 5,000 miles the car had traveled. Here are the numbers I crunched (and for long-time readers, I know I wrote a similar post back in 2016, but that’s a long time ago, so get off my lawn).
The Bolt is an electric vehicle, so I first wanted to learn my total electricity usage for the 5,000 miles. According to the car’s computer, my wife and I did a decent job of driving efficiently, coming in at an average of 3.8 miles per kilowatt hour (kWh). Dividing 5,000 miles by 3.8 miles per kWh, we get 1,315.79 kWh of electricity used to move the car over that distance. Noted.
When Chantel and I first got an electric vehicle in 2014, we switched over to Georgia Power’s variable rate plan for electric vehicles. On that plan, we pay $0.01 per kWh in “Super Off-Peak” hours, which are between 11pm and 7am every evening. In exchange for that very low rate, we have to pay $0.07 per kWh in other times of the day, and then $0.20 per kWh between 2pm and 7pm in the summer (“Peak” hours for Georgia Power – not surprisingly, we avoid using electricity at those times).
Most of our charging is done in Super Off-Peak hours, but to err on the conservative side, let’s assume our average cost per kWh was $0.02 for those first 5,000 miles. Multiplying $0.02 per kWh times 1,315.79 kWh yields a grand total of … wait for it … $26.31.
Yep, we drove 5,000 miles and paid a whopping $26 and change. That’s less than it costs to fill up our other car one time, and it only goes 400 miles on a tank. Even if we paid the regular Georgia Power rate (averaging about $0.06 per kWh regardless of time of day), we would have still paid less than $100 to drive 5,000 miles.
In other words, fuel costs for electric vehicles kick the pants off of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles (same goes for maintenance costs, by the way).
Of course, there’s that pesky problem of limited range that electric vehicles face, right? Well, our Bolt gets a reliable 200 miles or more per charge (EPA rated at 240 miles). That is PLENTY to get us where we need to go around town. If we need to leave town, we just take the other car.
Yes, I’m trying to convince you of something here. The next time you’re in the market for a vehicle, consider giving electric a try if you can. We haven’t regretted it one bit!
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