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Electric Cars – Are the Savings Real?

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Electric Cars – Are the Savings Real?

The government website Energy.gov contends that it costs about 3 times less to drive an electric vehicle.  An eGallon costs $1.22 versus $3.56 for a gallon of gas.

I’m not convinced.  I’d rather drive a hybrid car rather than an electric car.  Here is why.

Embedded in the computation for eGallon are assumptions that do not hold true for me.  It assumes a low cost of retail electricity, 12.3 cents/kWh versus my actual cost of about 19 cents/kWh.  It also assumes that a comparable gasoline car drives 28.2 miles per gallon.  Now, according to the government data (http://www.fueleconomy.gov), a comparable hybrid car drives about 44 miles per gallon.  Adjusting for these two assumptions, an eGallon will cost $2.94 versus $3.80 for me in Massachusetts.

Since buying an electric car will cost me $10,000 to 15,000 more than a hybrid car, I will need to drive 115 to 170 thousand miles before I’ll recoup my cost.  That is without factoring the cost of fitting a high speed car charger in my garage.  Plus, I will have to deal with range anxiety, the absence of charging stations on longer drives, and the degradation in battery performance after two years.

The hybrid technology offers a sensible and practical path forward for every class of vehicle, small cars as well as heavier vehicles.  I expect the electric vehicle technology will pass when the initial enthusiasm (stoked by government subsidies) ebbs, and it will make way for a far more rational choice of hybrid technology.

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