How much does an EV actually cost?
— An updated version of this article can now be found here. —
A lot of people assume going electric is expensive, but it’s really not so bad. There are many costs to consider when purchasing an electric vehicle (or any vehicle for instance). Costs can include the vehicle itself, a potential charging station and your hydro/electricity bill. Often consumers believe electrical vehicles are costly, however, governments offer incentives for future EV owners by subsidizing costs. The Ontario government offers an incentive up to $8,500.00 on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles(PHEVs). The US federal government also offers up to $7500 in tax credits to purchase an electric vehicle.
There are three different types of EV charging; level one, level two and DC fast charging. Level one charging does not require a charging station; it requires a three-prong household outlet. Although available to all electric vehicles, it is a very slow process and may take over an evening of charging for a full charge (approx.. 5 miles/hour). Level two charging requires external equipment. The equipment can range anywhere from a little under 1000 to 3000 dollars (CAN). Level two charging is faster than Level one, adding about 15-30 miles of driving range per hour of charging, depending on the vehicle. DC fast charging can add about 90 km of driving range within half an hour of charging. DC fast charging uses industrially-rated, gas pump-sized stations. Most consumers will either pick level one or two charging because they are less expensive. Only some vehicles offer this.
Charging stations are not as accessible as gas stations in Canada. Most EV owners will purchase level 2 charging stations, charging stations seem like a large expense. However, much like electric vehicles federal and provincial governments over incentives to buy and install these stations in a home. Although, charging stations are not required for electric cars, it is highly recommended for BEVs.
If you were to drive a Chevrolet Volt for 1609 km (1000 miles) a month at current Toronto hydro rates (at regulated plan tiered pricing, <600 kWh), it would lead to 1000 miles / 2.7 miles per kilowatt-hour = 370 Kilowatt-Hours. 370 Kilowatt-Hours * $0.078 Per Kilowatt Hour = $28.86 in Electricity per month for the volt. With current gas prices around 130 cents/litre, and 35.2 L to fill up a vehicle similar to the Chevrolet Volt, it would cost $45.76 for significantly less than 1609 km (1000 miles) of range.
Maybe the initial cost of an electric vehicle and the charger might be a bit more than a conventional vehicle, but the cost of the total life cycle of the electric car will be less compared to the conventional vehicle! Just because the amount you save on gas using an electric car.