Annual EV fuel savings average $450 in US
When, where, and how batteries are charged factor into costs Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – June 26, 2020
Last updated 7/1/2020 at 3:26am
An electric vehicle owner may be able to save a car payment or two per year due to the lower costs of powering up an EV compared to driving a similar gas car, according to a new analysis conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory.
While weighing the costs of buying an EV compared to a similar internal combustion engine car is straightforward, comparing the costs to keep them fueled up can be a bit more complicated. This is because the price of electricity can vary widely depend on where and when an EV is charged.
While previous studies assumed a singular value for the cost to charge an EV, NREL and INL dug much deeper to provide an unprecedented state-by-state assessment of the cost of EV charging that considers when, where, and how a vehicle is charged. This in-depth analysis also takes into consideration the thousands of electricity retail tariffs and real-world charging equipment and installation costs in the United States.
"Finding out the purchase price of a vehicle is relatively simple, but the savings related to fuel aren't readily available, especially since electricity cost varies greatly for different locations and charging options," said Matteo Muratori, a senior systems engineer at NREL and co-author of the research article.
The researchers developed a baseline scenario based on current vehicle use and charging behavior to estimate the average levelized cost of charging for EVs.
The cost to charge an EV varies widely.
The key factors include differences in the price of electricity; whether fast or slow charging is used to top off the batteries; the cost of installing recharge equipment; and the miles a vehicle is driven.
The national average cost to charge a battery EV ranges from 8 cents per kilowatt-hour to 27 cents, with an average of 15 cents. That corresponds to an average fuel cost savings of $3,000 to $10,500 over 15 years. At the national average of 15 cents per kWh, the lifetime savings is $6,750 or $450 per year.
In calculating costs, the researchers considered the nature of the charging stations. For a slow charge, a motorist can use a traditional outlet at home without any special equipment. Upgrading to a higher-powered residential charger costs about $1,800, including installation. But charging at home can be done at night when electricity prices are currently at their lowest, which is considered the best-case scenario from a cost perspective.
The national average cost of 15 cents per kWh assumes 81% of charging was done at home, 14% at the workplace or public station, and 5% with a DC fast charger, which corresponds with current charging habits. Exclusively charging at DCFC stations increases the average lifetime charging costs to 18 cents per kWh, while the price falls to 11 cents per kWh for motorists who only charged their EV using a dedicated household outlet – a cost that drops to 8 cents by charging during off-peak periods.
When looking at individual states, the 15-year savings for Washington EV drivers can be as high as $14,500. However, in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Tennessee driving an EV fails to provide any fuel savings when compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle under certain scenarios.
The complete report, "Levelized Cost of Charging Electric Vehicles in the United States", was published in Joule, a scientific journal for sustainable energy research.