When considering the operating costs for a gas powered vehicle, it’s fairly simple to understand and apply the miles-per-gallon ratings on the window stickers, because we’re used to thinking in those terms, and are reminded of the costs for a gallon of gas every time we fuel up.
But what if you’re interested in an electric car? How do you measure and compare the energy costs of something that plugs into your house with all of the rest of your electrical appliances, and gets paid for monthly, on a bill where you usually only see the totals for usage, not an itemized list?
To help potential electric car owners understand the cost difference between fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle and an equivalent charge for an electric vehicle, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed the eGallon, which represents that potential cost in a way that can be easily compared.
“The eGallon represents the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. For example, if gasoline costs $3.60 a gallon in your state and the eGallon price for your state is $1.20, that means that for $1.20 worth of electricity you can drive the same distance as you would for $3.60 worth of gasoline.” – Energy.gov
The online eGallon tool works by calculating how much electricity it takes for “the most popular electric vehicles” to travel the same distance as a gas-powered version on one gallon of gasoline, and then multiplied by the average cost of electricity in each state to give users a realistic comparison in energy costs between the two.
While the eGallon measurement is just a very basic comparison, which doesn’t account for different models of electric cars, or off-peak charging rates, or any of the other costs associated with the vehicles, it makes a great case for electric cars.
Fully-electric vehicles may not be ideal for all purposes and locations, but for those many places where they do, switching to electric cars can have a big financial impact, as the costs for driving an electric car are about three times less than that of a gasoline model.
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