No one said that the switch from gas-powered to
electric carswould be easy, but according to a new study from Anderson Economic Group (AEG), it could be a lot more difficult than anticipated.
The economic consulting firm compares the cost of driving a traditional
gas vehiclewith that of driving an electric vehicle (EV), and the results aren’t pretty.
The Michigan-based study claims that the “direct monetary cost to drive 100 miles in an internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicle is between $8 to $12, and in an EV is between $12 and $15.”
The study goes on to demonstrate that in all cases, refueling electric cars will cost more than refueling gasoline-powered vehicles. This could be bad news for prospective electric car buyers, as well as for the industry more broadly.
However, not all is lost for electric car owners. After taking a closer look at the AEG’s study,
Car and Driverdetermines that its results may be off base.
Issue #1: Inconsistent car types
Firstly, Car and Driver draws attention to the type of cars used in the data.
For gas-powered cars, the study took into account three types: entry-level, mid-priced, and luxury. For electric cars, however, they only took into account two types: mid-priced and luxury (the study used two luxury electric cars, with one “mostly”
charged at homeand the other charged more regularly at
public charging stations).
As Car and Driver puts it, “any cost benefit from buying an entry-level EV is missing.” This would naturally hike up the price of driving an EV—no wonder the AEG concluded that EVs cost more to drive than gas-powered vehicles.
Issue #2: Strange assumptions regarding charging times and habits for electric cars
Next, Car and Driver adds that “the study assumes odd habits for an EV driver who ‘mostly’ recharges at home.” This includes the assumption that
charging your EVat home takes two-and-a-half minutes, which Car and Driver believes to be an overstatement.
Moreover, the study assumes that the average electric car driver spends about 40% of their charge time at public charging stations, thus upping their monthly charge time to a whopping four and a half hours. Car and Driver points out that most electric car drivers with home charging stations would likely do the vast majority of charging at home, meaning that this figure is inaccurate.
In fact, Car and Driver confirms that “being able to charge at home is key to the ownership-cost equation,” postulating that most electric car owners would charge their vehicle about 90% at home, versus only 10% at public charging stations.
Issue #3: Flawed salary estimates
Another flaw in the study’s methodology is that when calculating the additional costs incurred by electric car owners due to extra charging time, the AEG assumed an annual salary of $70,000. In 2020, the national average salary was around $55,000—much lower than the AEG’s assumed salary.
Car and Driver sums up the issue here: “By using the higher estimated wage, the study authors are able to show the EVs ‘cost’ more because they assume that each minute of time it takes to charge is worth more than if they had used a lower annual salary.”
The verdict on the electric cars study
Car and Driver identifies several more issues with the study, including pricing free chargers at commercial rates and including the cost of a Level 1 charger despite these usually coming free with an electric car purchase.
What Car and Driver takes issue with the most, however, is that the AEG’s study “ignores any mention of emissions or climate change” when discussing the drawbacks and benefits of electric cars versus conventional gas-powered vehicles. Clearly, a big part of what makes electric cars so desirable to consumers is their eco-friendliness.
Ultimately, Car and Driver encourages readers to “do the math yourself,” along with the necessary research on electric cars, before making up their minds. It’s up to each driver to decide whether buying an electric car is worth it for them—but Car and Driver advises car-buyers to not let the AEG’s study deter them.