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Electric vs. Gas cars: Is it cheaper to drive an EV?

[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]

There are plenty of climate and air quality reasons to buy an electric vehicle (EV), but is it cheaper to drive? While this is a complicated question that has befuddled car shoppers for years, in most cases, an EV will indeed be cheaper in the long run. And with automakers slashing prices for EVs in the past year on top of federal incentives for eligible buyers, you may even be able to score a bargain up front. Let’s sort out the details.


Sticker prices for electric vs. gas cars.

According to data from Cox Automotive (parent company of Kelley Blue Book), the average price paid for a new EV has fallen significantly – in September 2023, it came down by $14,300 over the prior year. This amounted to a cost of just $2,800 more than the average paid for a new gas-powered vehicle. And with the EV market growing rapidly, the price margin is expected to shrink even more in the coming years as manufacturers produce more affordable models and improve battery technology, the most expensive part of an EV.



You can mitigate some of that cost by making use of tax incentives, which can shave thousands off an EV’s price tag. The federal EV tax credit offers up to $7,500 for new EVs and, for the first time, $4,000 for used EVs, too, for eligible buyers and EVs. In addition, new rules from U.S. Department of the Treasury will soon allow participating auto dealers to provide the tax credit directly to consumers at the point of sale, making savings more immediate.


One asterisk: Automakers must now meet new EV manufacturing requirements in order for their vehicles to qualify for those federal incentives, which will likely temporarily impact the availability of eligible EVs while supply chains catch up. Many states offer their own tax incentives, too, so take the time to search for what’s available for the model you’re interested in buying.


Be sure to also consider adding an EV charger to your home. Charging from a standard 120-volt outlet for eight hours overnight will add about 32 miles of range, which is typically plenty for daily driving needs. If you want to charge faster to be able to make frequent and/or longer trips, installing a Level 2, 240-volt outlet and charger in your garage can allow you to add more than 250 miles overnight.


That installation will typically cost you about $2,000, but some states and local utility companies offer incentives to offset it, as does the Inflation Reduction Act. Once you have an idea of what incentives you qualify for, you should be able to better compare car prices.


Cost of electricity vs. gasoline

Here’s where EV owners win out. Going electric means you get to skip pricey trips to the pump, which is one of the biggest draws for making the switch. A 2018 study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that the average cost to fuel an electric car was $485 a year, compared to $1,117 for a gas-powered vehicle. A 2020 Consumer Reports study similarly showed that EV drivers tend to spend about 60 percent less each year on fuel costs compared to drivers of gas-powered cars. And in 2023, the nonpartisan policy firm Energy Innovation released a report showing that these savings benefit drivers across the United States: Every EV model in every state is cheaper to fill than a gas-powered vehicle. These savings are largely based on the fact that current EVs are 2.6 to 4.8 times more efficient at traveling a mile compared to a gasoline internal combustion engine, according to real world data collected by the U.S. Department of Energy.



But these savings calculations aren’t the same for everyone. Here’s where it can get a little complicated.

For starters, EVs can vary in efficiency – that is, how far they can go on the same amount of electricity. For an EV, efficiency is measured by how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity it consumes per 100 miles – similar to a gas-powered car’s miles-per-gallon stat. (A lower kWh/100 miles rate is better.) The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 is a standout in terms of efficiency, with 24 kWh/100 miles, but the more budget-friendly 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV is comparable, with a 29 kWh/100 miles rating. So make sure to consider this factor when comparison shopping.


Charging your car at home will cause your electricity bill to rise, but by how much will depend on factors like when you charge it and where you live. Electricity costs, like gas prices, can vary significantly by region. Many electric utilities offer lower electricity rates for charging during off-peak hours versus peak, so you’ll want to take advantage of this when charging your EV, and many EVs can be programmed to automatically charge during those hours when rates are low.


Taking these charging costs into account, a 2020 study broke down the lifetime fuel costs of battery-powered EVs versus internal combustion engine cars state by state. EV owners in Washington State, for example, can save as much as $14,480 over the life of their vehicle – the highest margin in the country. On the other end of the spectrum is Hawaii, where going electric could ultimately cost $2,494 more over 15 years.


To get a rough estimate of your own charging costs, multiply an EV’s kilowatt-hour (kWh/100) mileage rate by your electricity rate (measured in cents per kWh), which you can find on your monthly bill. This will give you the electricity costs per 100 miles driven. After figuring in the number of miles you typically drive in a month, you’ll be able to see how much your electric bill may go up. Keep in mind that charging your car overnight, when electricity demand and prices drop, can save you 30 percent on that charge.


Also note that public charging stations tend to be more expensive than charging at home. If you rely exclusively on these stations – which do offer faster, higher-voltage charging – your fueling costs could significantly increase.


After you figure out how these factors apply to you and your preferred EV model, compare your final electricity cost estimate to what you typically spend on gas.




electric vehicle (EV) /iˌlek.trɪk ˈvɪə.kəl/ (n): xe chạy bằng điện

befuddled /bɪˈfʌd.əld/ (adj): gây bối rối/khó nghĩ

automaker /ˈɔː.təʊˌmeɪ.kər/ (n): nhà sản xuất ô tô/công ty sản xuất xe lớn

slash /slæʃ/ (v): giảm mạnh

federal incentive /ˈfed.ər.əl ɪnˈsen.tɪv/ [C2] (n): ưu đãi liên bang

eligible /ˈel.ɪ.dʒə.bəl/ [C1] (adj): đủ điều kiện/phẩm chất

bargain /ˈbɑː.ɡɪn/ [B1] (n): món hời/giá hời

up front (phrase): từ đầu/từ trước

sort sth out /sɔːt/ (phr v): sắp xếp/phân loại cái gì

sticker price /ˈstɪk.ə ˌpraɪs/ (n): giá niêm yết/giá chính thức

parent company /ˌpeə.rənt ˈkʌm.pə.ni/ (n): công ty mẹ

significantly /sɪɡˈnɪf.ɪ.kə [B2] (adv): đáng kể

amounted to sth /əˈmaʊnt/ (phr v): lên tới một con số cụ thể

price margin /ˈmɑː.dʒɪn/ [C2] (n): biên độ/tỷ suất giá cả

expected /ɪkˈspek.tɪd/ [B2] (adj): dự kiến

shrink /ʃrɪŋk/ [B2] (v): thu nhỏ

manufacturer /ˌmæn.jəˈfæk.tʃər.ər/ [B2] (n0: nhà sản xuất

affordable /əˈfɔː.də.bəl/ (adj): giá cả phải chăng/không đắt đỏ

mitigate /ˈmɪt.ɪ.ɡeɪt/ (v): giảm thiểu/giảm nhẹ

tax credit /ˈtæks ˌkred.ɪt/ (n): tín dụng thuê

shave sth off/from sth (phr v): cắt giảm một phần từ cái gì đó

U.S. Department of the Treasury: Bộ Tài Chính Hoa Kỳ

participate  /pɑːˈtɪs.ɪ.peɪt/ [B2] (v): tham gia

auto dealer /ˈɔː.təʊ ˈdiː.lər/ (n): đại lý ô tô

point of sale /ˌpɔɪnt əv ˈseɪl/ (n): điểm bán hàng

immediate /ɪˈmiː.di.ət/ [B2] (adj): ngay lập tức

asterisk /ˈæs.tər.ɪsk/ (n): dấu hoa thị

requirement /rɪˈkwaɪə.mənt/ [B2] (n): yêu cầu

qualify /ˈkwɒl.ɪ.faɪ/ [B2] (v): đủ điều kiện

temporarily /tem.pəˈəl.i/ [B2] (adv): tạm thời

availability /əˌveɪ.ləˈbɪl.ə.ti/ [B2] (n): nguồn hàng

supply chain /səˈplaɪ ˌtʃeɪn/ (n): chuỗi cung ứng

catch up /kætʃ/ [C1] (phr v): bắt kịp/đuổi kịp

state /steɪt/ [B1] (n): tiểu bang

be sure to [C1] (phr): hãy nhớ/hãy chắc chắn

range /reɪndʒ/ (n): chặng đườngsavng

frequent /ˈfriː.kwənt/ [B1] (adj): thường xuyên

installation /ˌɪn.stəˈleɪ.ʃən/ [C1] (n): việc lắp đặt/cài đặt

utility company [juˈtɪləti ˈkʌmpəni] (n): công ty dịch vụ

incentive /ɪnˈsen.tɪv/ [C2] (n): ưu đãi, khuyến mại

offset /ˌɒfˈset/ [C2] (v): bù đắp

Inflation Reduction Act (n): Luật giảm Lạm phát

pricey trip /ˈpraɪ.si trɪp/ (n): chuyến đi tốn kém/đắt đỏ

Transportation Research Institute (n): Viện Nghiên cứu Giao thông Vận tải

compare /kəmˈpeər/ [B1] (v): so sánh

Consumer Reports (n): Báo cáo Người tiêu dùng

nonpartisan policy firm /ˌnɑːnˈpɑːr.t̬ə.zən ˈpɒl.ə.si fɜːm/ (n): tổ chức chính sách phi đảng phái

release /rɪˈliːs/ [C1] (v): công bố/công khai

gas-powered vehicle (n): xe chạy bằng xăng

internal combustion engine /ɪnˌtɜː.nəl kəmˈbʌs.tʃən ˌen.dʒɪn/ (n): động cơ đốt trong

efficiency /ɪˈfɪʃ.ə (n): hiệu suất

consume /kənˈsuːm/ [C1] (v): tiêu thụ

budget-friendly: phù hợp với túi tiền

off-peak hours: ngoài giờ cao điểm

take advantage of: tận dụng lợi thế

multiply /ˈmʌl.tə.plaɪ/ (v) : nhân


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