The relatively high upfront price and limited range if electric vehicles is keeping many would-be EV owners from taking the plunge.
It’s a valid concern if you’re on a limited budget and need to make the most of your milage, and it begs the question: which electric car offers the best mileage-per-dollar?
The answer might surprise you, and it certainly surprised me. Despite it’s high upfront cost, the Tesla Model S gets the best value-per-mile when judged by its range.
How exactly does that work out? Well, using the base MSRP as a starting point (no tax incentives for you!) MojoMotors put together the above chart that shows what each EV costs per mile of range, utilizing the official EPA ratings. Coming in with the worst value is the BMW i3, which costs $41,350 but has an EPA-rated range of just 81 miles per charge, which works out to about $510 for every mile of driving range. The 103-mile Toyota RAV4 EV and 87-mile Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive didn’t fare much better, costing $483 and $476 per mile of range, respectively, rounding out the costliest three.
One might think in this case is that expensive electric cars just aren’t worth it, but then we get to the Tesla Model S with its 85 kWh battery pack. The official 265 mile range and $79,900 MSRP leads the survey at a cost of just $302 per mile, while the surprise runner-up is the Chevy Spark EV at $325 per mile, while the Nissan Leaf costs just over $350 for each mile. Despite having a rated range of just 82 miles, it is also one of the cheapest EVs on the market with a MSRP of $26,685. Only the Smart FourTwo Electric Drive ($25,000) and Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($22,995) are cheaper, but they only offer 68 and 62 miles of driving respectively, putting them smack dab in the middle.
The takeaway? I’m not sure. Tesla managed to score the best value and offer the most range, despite (or perhaps because of) it’s high cost. It shows that some of the latest EVs aren’t that great of a value, but other vehicles might be unfairly overlooked in the pursuit of a good deal. There’s a wide gap between the Model S and the second-longest range EV on this, the RAV4 EV, meaning there’s a lot of room to improve the value of electric vehicles.
Of course if you DO apply the $7,500 Federal tax, the cheaper cars become much more competitive. For example, the Nissan LEAF sees its cost drop down to about $255 per mile, beating out the Model S which falls to just $273 with the tax credit applied. It just shows yet again how important this tax credit is.
It also prompts another thought: would buyers prefer to pay by-the-mile when shopping for EVs? Is cost-per-mile better than MPGe?