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Cost Per Mile of Driving – Electric vs Conventional

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Toyota RAV4 EV - Higher ¢/mi, but Cleaner
Toyota RAV4 EV – Higher ¢/mi, but Cleaner

In any venture involving the exchange of money, it is often advisable to hire an analyst to perform a “Cost-Benefit Analysis,” which compares the amount of money you’d spend to what kind of returns you can expect. Such analysis helps companies stay in the black when they’re considering expansion, or purchase of a new technology. Speaking of new technology, ever consider the cost per mile of upgrading to the latest in automobile technology, say, electric vehicles?

Despite a couple of perceived limitations of electric vehicles, the case can be made that electric vehicles are much cleaner than their conventional counterparts. On the other hand, you often have to pay out a littler more, or a lot more depending on which electric vehicle you choose, in order to realize these benefits.

Which benefits? Well, electric vehicles don’t require fuel, and instead are charged off grid power, so there’s no more filling up on expensive gas. True, electricity has a cost, but it is fairly cheap in comparison.

Still, how do the numbers stack up? According to some calculations, owning an electric vehicle may, or may not, be more expensive than a conventional vehicle. Depending on which vehicle technology you purchase, where you recharge, and your driving habits, your actual costs could be very different than someone even one state over. By comparing vehicle financing, tax incentives, fueling / recharging costs, maintenance, and insurance costs, we can get a rough idea how much it costs per mile over five years. How did some common electric vehicles and their conventional counterparts stack up in California?

  • 2013 Nissan Leaf: 23¢/mi
  • 2013 Toyota Camry: 32¢/mi
  • 2013 Toyota Matrix: 36¢/mi
  • 2013 Chevy Volt: 25¢/mi
  • 2013 Honda Accord CVT: 33¢/mi
  • 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: 33¢/mi
  • 2013 Honda CR-V FWD: 29¢/mi

What this cost per mile comparison doesn’t include, though, is reduced costs due to fewer emissions, from health issues to complications due to climate change, which is costing $50+ billion annually. I’m sure if there was a way to calculate these, high-technology electric vehicles would be closer to maybe 20¢/mi.

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