Where in the US do electric vehicles make the sense? What about when? Where in the country does the total cost of ownership fall below that of conventional vehicles?
Amongst those insights, is the observation that, over a 6-year period, an average electric vehicle (EV) uses around $5,000 less in fueling costs than a typical gas- or diesel-powered vehicle. During the same 6-year time period, most EVs need around $1,700 less in maintenance — which is mostly the result of the far simpler internal structure of most EVs, as compared to gas- or diesel-powered cars.
As far as the specifics of different locations’ suitability to EV use, much of this comes down to what is on offer as far as purchase incentives. Available tax credits or rebates, etc, vary considerably based on which state you’re located in.
Here’s more from the ICCT:
Colorado and California, for example, offer some of the largest purchase incentives — $5,000 and $2,500 respectively. Delaware, Connecticut, and Tennessee, each recently began offering purchase subsidies ranging from $2,200 to $3,000 per vehicle. Similarly, Massachusetts recently allocated an additional $2 million to the electric vehicle program, which provides purchase rebates up to $2,500 per vehicle. Oregon too is considering offering a cash incentive worth up to $3,000 at time of purchase. However, purchase incentives are very expensive for governments to offer; just as some states are implementing or strengthening purchase incentives, others are removing them. Illinois and Georgia both recently revoked purchase incentives. Similarly, the Texas purchase incentive program recently expired.
If you add up the effective benefits of existing state and city purchase incentives, public charger availability, carpool lane access, registration fee exemptions, and home charger installation support (which we’ve done here), one thing that becomes clear is that the total cost of owning and operating a typical BEV over a 6-year period varies significantly by location. The figure below summarizes the total cost of ownership — vehicle purchase cost, electricity and fueling cost, other annual costs, and policy incentives — for BEVs in the 25 largest US metropolitan areas.
As one can see, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco all possess “effective ownership costs” lower than those for conventional non-hybrid vehicles, after policy benefits are factored in anyways. As far as the other cities, the graph shows the rise in ownership costs for the cities without notable incentives pretty clearly.
That said, the calculations and benefit depend on a lot on individual circumstances. Since charging an EV is much cheaper than filling up a gas tank, people who drive a lot more are able to save more from switching to an EV.
There are also large potential time savings from driving an EV. If one were to include those with one’s own value of time, the situation could again change to a large degree.
Lastly, one also has to determine which car they’d buy if not electric, and which electric car they’d buy — electric cars have certain benefits that drivers may value enough to choose a “lower-trim” EV over a more “decked out” gasmobile.