It took a little bit of work, but reviewing the last two billing cycles and diving into the details of the bill online, I have calculated that it costs $2.55 to fully charge the Leaf. I then calculated that it would cost $13.20 to get 120 miles out of a 25 MPG conventional car, that’s a really big difference! This is a big part of the “total cost of ownership” calculation that is so hard to articulate for folks who might consider an EV, but are turned off by the initial sticker shock.
I have 14 years of utility data, but there are many factors that make a linear, apples-to-apples comparison difficult. Our building has had many energy efficiency upgrades over that time, from insulation and new appliances to LED light bulbs, and adding the weather and rate changes into the mix makes isolating the electrical consumption of the Leaf somewhat difficult. BUT, just using an average of the last three years after most of those upgrades were complete, it looks like the Leaf will increase our bill by 20%. This will add up to about $325 per year to keep the car charged to meet our needs.
Sparing you again from the weeds I dug through to calculate the annual cost of gas for our previous small car, which switched from a 25 MPG conventional car to a 40 MPG hybrid during the study period, and knowing how much gas prices have changed in the last three years, the annual average gas cost was around $900 per year. Should these estimates pan out, the Leaf will save us around $575 per year.
What I really like about that savings figure is the impact it could have on the regional economy if ownership of electric vehicles was widespread. In 2012, we produced a report for Clean Fuels Ohio that calculated such an impact, and it’s really impressive. To summarize, $750 of that $900 we used to spend on gas (86%) leaves the regional economy to pay for the primary activities of extraction and refining, leaving only $150 to be spent locally on job-creating activities like shopping and going to the movies. With the Leaf, we now have $575 in our pocket to spend, almost three times as much!
There are 1.9 million households in Chicago, and the US Census reports there are 1.1 vehicles per household. Now, imagine that extra $425 per household multiplied by 11,000 EVs, which is only 1% of those household vehicles, and the result is nearly FIVE MILLION DOLLARS being spent at coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants, babysitters, taquerias, sports bars, hardware stores, and more, instead of leaving the region. That’s just in one city, in just one state. WOW.