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Electric Cars Aren't Just For The Environment, They Also Save You Cash

Now drivers can save money and feel good about their environmental impact.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
30 NOV 2017
 

Electric cars aren't just for the environment, they can also save drivers cash. A new study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has found charging an electric car is now cheaper than pumping gas in many U.S. cities.

 

The study shows drivers can save anywhere from $440 to more than $1070 a year driving an electric vehicle, compared to the cost of fueling an average gas-powered car.

"Electric vehicles offer a lot of real benefits for drivers, but one of the most striking is how much cheaper they are to fuel," said author of the study David Reichmuth, a senior engineer at UCS.

"In every city we looked at, electric drivers saved significantly by switching from gasoline."

The study, called "Going from Pump to Plug: Adding up the Savings from Electric Vehicles," compared the price of electricity and gasoline in 57 cities across the U.S. The findings reveal even when gas prices are relatively low, drivers can save money by going electric.

As anyone who has owned a car knows, gas prices are volatile. In the past 15 years the price for a gallon of gas has ranged from less than $2 to more than $4.50.

If you need more convincing, just look at what happened after Hurricane Harvey damaged oil infrastructure in Texas. After the natural disaster, gas prices around the country sky rocketed, costing America's drivers an extra $3 billion in just four weeks.

 

Thankfully, the price of electricity is much more stable. In the past 15 years, the cost of the electricity equivalent of gas has only varied between $0.88 and $1.17.

But wait - there's more! The study found maintaining an electric vehicle is often cheaper than traditional car maintenance. That's because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and owners don't need to worry about things like oil changes.

All in all, the study found electric vehicles can cut maintenance costs by more than half - and that's no small laughing matter.

So, how much do electric vehicles save drivers overall?

It varies from city to city. In San Francisco drivers can save up to $1,077 a year, and in New York City they can save up to $1061. Whereas in Houston drivers might only save $443. It all depends on the green infrastructure of the city. The researchers have published a map with the average savings for each of the 57 cities here.

Even still, the upfront cost for an electric car remains steep compared to more traditional vehicles, although that won't be the case forever. Thanks to falling battery costs and rising electric vehicle production, electric cars are becoming more and more affordable. And when federal incentives are available they are easily comparable to traditional gasoline vehicles.

 

Plus, electric vehicles are infinitely better for the environment than their gasoline counterparts. Now drivers can save money and feel good about their environmental impact.

"Electric vehicles can be really good for consumers, but we need to work harder to build out the market so more people can take advantage of the benefits," said Reichmuth. 

"Manufacturers are beginning to offer more electric options, but we also need better charging infrastructure and electricity plans. And we should defend state and federal policies that help make these vehicles affordable for more people."

The study was released by the Union of Concerned Scientists.