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This Study Says Electric Vehicles Are Cheaper to Own. Is that True?


February 13, 2019 Cars By

The International Council for Clean Transportation released a study concluding that EVs were cheaper to own gas or diesel cars. The study examined gas, diesel, hybrid and EV versions of the Volkswagen Golf in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. The study found that even factoring in the additional price, the VW e-Golf: ($30,495 base) was most economical over a four-year period.

So, EVs are now cheaper? Well, no.

The countries in question have some of the world’s highest gasoline prices. Norway and the Netherlands have average prices well north of $7 per gallon. The cheapest fuel country in the study, Germany, has an average price of $6.43 per gallon, more than double the fuel cost in the United States.

The U.S. took the politically expedient carrot route to promote EVs, offering a tax subsidy to relatively affluent buyers. We haven’t imposed the stick in the form of higher gasoline taxes. So, while Tesla sales are booming, so are those for pickups and big honking three-row SUVs.

It does cost less to power an electric car vs. a gasoline vehicle. But, it still costs a lot more to buy one. The Hyundai Kona EV, for instance, has been earning great reviews. Getting its base price below $30,000, when the $7,500 federal tax credit gets factored in, will be a coup. That’s still about $10,000 more than the base Hyundai Kona, which gets about 30mpg combined.

The EPA estimates an annual fuel cost of $1100 per year for the gas Kona. Even making considerable changes over that would require a long time before the fuel savings from the EV Kona accounted for the premium to buy it. You will get a lot more torque from the EV Kona, though don’t expect millennials to dip into that avocado toast budget for torque.

More affordable EVs are coming to market. We are at a point with price and performance where buying one can be a reasonable option for more people. The costs of battery tech still need to come down for mass market EV adoption to be a purely economic decision.

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