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Comparing Electric Cars To Gas Cars

Update: I’ve changed the images below to only show the first 8 years of ownership, since the warranties for batteries tend to end at 8 years, and we have no good idea of what an EV battery will cost in 8 years, nor for how long the batteries will actually last.

So,… when I ran my comparisons of a Ford Focus Electric and Ford Focus S the other day, I thought the Ford Focus S was the most similar non-electric model to the Ford Focus Electric. Woops. After some discussions with readers, it seems the more appropriate comparison (for current Ford Focus options) is the Ford Focus ST, which has a base price of $23,700.

Additionally, readers seemed to make good arguments that maintenance costs really need to be included in these comparisons. So, without running through all the text in this post that I included in the other one, let’s quickly jump to some comparisons based on a similar variety of assumptions but with these changes incorporated (followed by a bunch of other considerations, mostly brought up by readers, that you really should consider):

Ford Focus Electric vs Ford Focus ST

Two assumptions that stay constant below are that the Ford Focus Electric has a combined MPGe rating of 105 and the Ford Focus ST has a combined MPG rating of 22. I also keep constant the assumption that average additional maintenance costs per mile (for the Ford Focus ST) = 4¢. Also, figures listed below are for the total cost at the end of the year. These factors as well as the ones I change below can be changed in this spreadsheet.

Example 1

Assumptions:

  • average miles driven per year = 20,000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $4.50
  • tax rebates = $10,000

Result: start saving money in year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Ford Focus Electric-Savings

Example 2

Assumptions:

  • average miles driven per year = 13,476
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $3.50
  • tax rebate = $7,500.

Result: start saving money in year 5 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Ford Focus Electric Savings 2

Example 3

Assumptions:

  • average miles driven per year = 20000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $3.50
  • tax rebates = $10,000.

Result: start saving money near the end of year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Ford Focus Electric Savings 3

Example 4

Assumptions:

  • average miles driven per year = 13476
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 6¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $5.00
  • tax rebate = $7,500

Result: start saving money in year 3 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Ford Focus Electric Savings 4

Example 5

Assumptions:

  • average miles driven per year = 15,000
  • average price of electricity when charging your EV = 12¢/kWh
  • average price of gas per gallon = $4.50
  • tax rebate = $10,000

Result: start saving money in year 2 (not including health savings and the many other factors listed at the end of this post).

Ford Focus Electric Savings 5

Some Financial Factors Not Included

Sales tax (varies by state), interest rate if not buying the car up-front, availability of free EV charging, purchase of Level 2 EV charger, healthcare savings, depreciation rates, insurance rates, eventual need to replace/exchange the battery (after 8-12 years), state or local tax incentives (except in the last scenario) — I know some states offer an extra $2,500 off. To play with a spreadsheet that allows some modification of those, this Nissan Leaf driver has one you can download.

You can also play around with the assumptions in my spreadsheet.

Other, Non-Financial Factors

Now, as one of our readers noted, many (or even most) people don’t simply choose a car based on price. Surely, price is normally a factor, but not always the most important factor. Here’s a list of pros and cons for an EV versus a gasoline-powered car:

Pros

  • Super quiet.
  • Smoother ride.
  • Ridiculous torque.
  • Not have to worry about gas price swings/jumps.
  • Ability to fuel at home (never visit a gas station again) — big time cost savings there (and also savings from not buying snacks at the gas station, one of our readers noted).
  • Better health from not being as exposed to pollutants.
  • Not having to mess with oil changes, smog checks, timing belts, etc.
  • Helping the world (including your children and grandchildren) by fighting global warming.
  • Helping improve national security by reducing our dependence on oil.
  • Potential ability to engage in vehicle-to-grid projects.

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Cons

  • Charging opportunities are not as widespread as gas stations.
  • The range on a full tank of fuel is lower for an EV.

Others you can think of?