Gas Cars Vs. EV Cars – How Much Do You Save in Gas?

White Tesla Model 3 Charging at Home
Austin, Texas, 2-1-2021: Tesla Model 3 charging at home in front of a house on an L2 charger

There are a number of benefits of driving an electric vehicle (EV). One is the cost savings on gas. The other is the environment. We will concentrate on the former now and will discuss the environment in a separate article.

Before we start discussing how EV batteries work, make sure you have read our article on electric current and Units of Power and How They are Related to Electricity but don’t worry. How EV batteries work is actually easy to understand.

But let’s review:

    • Electrons are the basis of electrical current, known as amps.
      Voltage is the force that pushes the electrons through the electric circuit.
    • Electric current usually flows through copper wire which is the conductor and the wire is covered by an insulator.
    • A Watt is the resultant energy (power) that runs the electronic device, defined by E=IR.
    • A kilowatt is 1000 watts.
    • A kilowatt-hour (kWh) equates to 1kw that runs a device for 1 hour.

      Review Example:
      If you run an air conditioner for one hour and that air conditioner uses 65 kilowatts of electricity per hour, then you have used 65 kilowatts of electrical energy for that hour. If you run the air conditioner for two hours, you would have used up 130 kilowatts of energy.

What Mineral Types are Installed in EV Batteries?

The raw materials that batteries use can differ depending on their chemical compositions. However, there are five battery minerals that are considered critical for Li-ion batteries:

    • Cobalt
    • Graphite
    • Lithium
    • Manganese
    • Nickel

Most EV cars, with the exception of the high-end luxury ones, have batteries that consist of a 60-65kWh battery, which means that you use about 60-65kW when driving each hour. Spearing you the formula, a battery of this size will equate to about 260 miles after a full (100%) charge.

How Much Does Kilowatts Equate to Electrical Costs?

Electrical Towers
High voltage transmission towers with red glowing wires against blue sky – Energy concept. iStock

Most EV cars, with the exception of the high-end luxury ones, have batteries with a 60-65kWh battery, which means that you use about 60-65kW when driving each hour. Sparing you the formula, a battery of this size will equate to about 260 miles after a full (100%) charge. 

OK But How Much Does It Cost?

Here’s the breakdown.

We will use a 2021, 4-cylinder Nissan Altima as our example.
Gas tank size: 16.2 galsMPH: 31 average. 

If we multiply 31 miles/gals * 16.2 gals, we can determine the total mileage that this car can run on a full tank of gas, which is 502 miles.  

As of this writing, the price for a gallon of gas is $5.00 on average across the United States. So $5.00 * 16.2 gallons (a full tank) equals $81 (to fill up).

The EV Cars

For EVs, we calculate energy unit per mile instead of MPH. For this example, we will use a 2020 Kia Niro, which is a fully electric vehicle and contains a 65kWh battery, and as mentioned, most EV cars have this type of battery (at least at this time).

The industry standard for fully charging any 65kWh EV is about 260 miles of available driving before you need to recharge. If you have an EV, never let it go below 30%, as you may run into trouble if you are on the road and can’t find a charging station. 

Let’s review what we know so far:

    • To fill up the gas tank of a 2021 Nissan Altima can take you about 502 miles without having to fill up again.
    • To fully charge a 2020 Kia Niro’s battery, the car can go about 260 miles without having to recharge.
    • The cost to fill up the car as of this writing is about $81.00.

Conventional Vs. Electric Vehicles

Another real-life example we need to add is the cost of electricity use in the home, and we will use the electrical costs from PSEG of Long Island, New York, which powers Nassau County, New York, where the offices of Howard Fensterman are located.

Tip: You know what they say “If you read it on the Internet, it must be true!“.  We’ll we read it on the Internet and got results ranging from 14 cents all the way up to 22 cents/kWh.

Then we decided to do something smart. Why not just call PSEGLI? So we did and lo and behold, we found that the cost to run electrical appliances in Nassau County is 6 cents/kWh!

The average electric cost in New York State is 14.34 cents / kWh, but this office is in Nassau County, so we will use the 6 cents/kWh; thus, the cost to fully charge an EV with a 65kWh battery is:

65kWh * .06kWh = $3.09

Which can take up to four hours using a 220-volt connection.

Proportion 

Now we need to match the mileage for a fully charged EV (230 miles) to fill a gas tank of a conventional car to that same mileage (230 miles).

Here are the steps:

    • Divide the total mileage to fully charge the battery by the total mileage to fill a gas tank to get the percentage between the two: 

230 mi / 502 mi = 45%
So 230 miles is 45% of 502 miles

      • Multiply this percentage by the total cost to gas up the car

To get the cost for a conventional car to go 230 miles, we multiply the cost to fill up the gas tank ($85.00) by 45% to match the 230 miles, and the cost would then be 0.45 *$85 = $38.7. 

Therefore, using an average of today’s gas prices, it would cost a gas car $38.7 to go 230 miles and an EV car would cost $3.09 to go the same distance (230 miles) in Nassau County, New York.

Drilling Down the Proportions

At this point, let’s round off the $3.09 to $3.00 for simplicity’s sake, so to go 1/2 that range (115 miles), the electrical cost would be $1.50. Similarly, to go 1/4 the distance (57.2 miles),  the cost would be .75.

But How Much Does It Cost to Go Five Miles?
Why are We Even Asking This?

Because if we know how much it costs to go one mile, we can calculate the costs for any distance the car goes at five-dollar intervals!

Gas Cars

We already know that it costs $39 (rounded off) to go 230 miles, so $39 is to 230 miles as X (as our unknown dollar amount) is to 5 miles. The formula is 230 * X = 39 * 5, so X = (39 * 5) / 230 and X = .85, so it cost a conventional car 85 cents to go 5 miles.

EV Cars

If the car (our 2021 Altima) costs $3.00 (rounded off) to go 230 miles, we use the following formula:

So, 230 miles is to $3.00 as 5 miles is to X (the unknown cost) which equates to:

230/3  = 5/X or 230X = 15 and so X = 15/230 = 7 cents (rounded)

It cost 7 cents to go 5 miles on a 2020 Kia Niro EV.

Additional Examples 

If you travel 1000 mi/month, that would equate to $170 / month for a conventional car and ~ $40 / month for an EV car.  

If you travel 750 mi/month, that would equate to $127.5 / month for a conventional car and ~ $30 / month for an EV car. 

If you travel 3000 mi/month, that would equate to $510 / month for conventional cars and ~ $120 / month for an EV car. 

In order to determine the savings on your car against one that you are thinking about buying, do the following:

      1. Look up the gas mileage of your car
      2. Call your electric company to find out how much you electricity runs per kWh
      3. Use the formula above to determine the same amount of mileage your car will go against the total kWh capacity of your future EV car
      4. Multiply that milage by your city’s gas costs.

Conclusion

If you are looking to save money on gas, EV cars are the way to go. Yes, these vehicles are more expensive than conventional gas cars, but at $5.00+ a gallon, you will be pleasantly surprised how much your savings can accumulate to.

 

 

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