EV owners still pay more per mile of range than gas-powered car owners do, and that’s not likely to change until at least 2025
Electric vehicles have made major gains in terms of how far a single charge will take you.
A new analysis finds EVs still lag behind gas cars in terms of retail cost per mile of range.
If trends of recent years continue, EVs could catch up around 2025, but major challenges remain.
A decade ago, an average non-Tesla EV owner would not be able to make the 95-mile drive from New York to Philadelphia without stopping to recharge their battery.
The range of today’s electric models now allow drivers to blow right through the city of brotherly love and make it to Washington, DC, a journey of about 225 miles.
By comparison, conventional cars average about 395 miles on a tank of gasoline.
To put electric and gas cars on a common footing, economist Michael Plante and analyst Sean Howard divided average price by vehicle range to determine
the retail cost of each mile that each kind gets on one “fill-up.”
According to their calculations, the median EV cost $554 per mile of range in 2012, and has been slashed by more than half to $214 in 2021.
Tesla cars, which are calculated separately due to the automaker’s industry-leading range, have seen improvement from $352 in 2012 to $173 per mile in 2021.
Both Teslas and non-Teslas lag well behind gas cars, which have hovered around $104 per mile with little variation over the past decade.
It should be noted that while Plante and Howard work for the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, this work does not necessarily represent the views of the Fed.
The researchers sensibly stop short of forecasting a date when EVs will match gas cars on this metric,
but a basic extrapolation of the data suggests the soonest that might happen is around 2025.
Still, Insider economy editor Andy Kiersz recommends taking that projection with a fairly sizable grain of salt.
A lot of stars will need to align in order for EV-makers to both increase range and decrease prices to align with what consumers have come to expect from gas cars.
But that’s not to say EV owners are getting a bad deal.
Most drivers aren’t spending each day shuttling from New York to DC — they’re going about 30 miles per day and leaving the car parked for hours at a time at home or work.
In terms of actually operating the different vehicles day-to-day, the US Department of Energy has a helpful calculator for comparing,
say, a Tesla Model 3 against a Volkswagen Jetta.
According to that calculator, a driver in New York with average commuting habits would spend about $527 per year on electricity to power a Tesla, while annual gasoline costs for the Jetta would run to $952.
On a per-mile basis, the Tesla comes out a nickel ahead, costing $0.22 per mile to the Jetta’s $0.27.
Also, neither the range-per-mile estimate nor the government calculator include potential incentives for EV owners, which can further bring down the total cost of ownership.
Range anxiety is likely to become less of an issue as more charging stations with faster chargers are installed around the country,
but EVs still have some catching-up to do to compete with what we’re used to getting from gas.
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