Does an electric car make economic sense?

Warning: Betteridge's Law Applies

I drive 8000 miles a year in a car with 45MPG actual fuel efficiency (2013 Prius). We paid somewhere around $23000 for it. If I drive this car for 15 years, I'll buy around 2700 gallons of gas.

Compare this to the (discontinued) Prius Plugin Hybrid with MSRP of about $30000. Imagine that I could have done all my driving in electric mode, and that its efficiency is ∞MPGe. I'd break even on the $7000 higher initial price if the average gas price is $2.56. Sounds plausible that I could save money that way, right?

But of course I couldn't go everywhere in "all-electric" / "charge depletion" mode, probably only about 2000 miles/year out of my 8000 miles/year would fall into this category (in-city driving 200 days a year at 10 miles/day). So now I'm only saving only about 670 gallons of gas *OVER THE COURSE OF OWNING THE CAR FOR 15 YEARS*. This is only break-even if gas is $10/gallon.

But of course, the plug-in hybrid is not ∞MPGe, it's 110MPGe, so I'm still buying electricity equivalent to 270 gallons of gas over the course of owning the car to drive those 30000 miles, meaning I only saved 400 gallons of gas, making the break-even gas price $17.50/gallon.

But MPGe is actually "miles per 33.7kWh". 33.7kWh of electricity costs $3.17 in my local market at summer rates, or $1.88 at winter rates, an average of $2.31 (only 4 months are "summer"). So that's $623 in electricity to operate the thing in electric mode for 30,000 miles, pushing the break-even gasoline price up to $19.

And don't get me started on the all-electric Tesla Model S, the car that costs as much as two or three priuses and still can't drive from Lincoln to Denver. Or rather, I could, if I stop to use charging stations at a few key locations on I-80, which from what I read can charge a car at a rate of about 30 miles per hour...

Entry first conceived on 11 August 2016, 22:07 UTC, last modified on 11 August 2016, 22:46 UTC
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