If you Live in Alabama, You Should Go Electric

What Type Of Car Would You Choose? 

..Your decision will depend on the state you live in. 

Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are less expensive to operate than gasoline fueled vehicles, although the costs vary significantly by state. Recent research --'Relative Costs of Driving Electric and Gasoline Vehicles in the Individual U.S. States -- is authored by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Sustainable Worldwide Transportation Group. The paper examines the variation across U.S. states in the relative fuel cost of electric and gasoline vehicles. The study is limited to comparison of energy costs and does not account for differences in purchase price and maintenance costs of these vehicles. For starters, the average cost -- not counting for variations in state fuel costs -- are dramatic.

Average Annual Energy Cost

  • Average annual energy cost of gas powered vehicles: $1,117
    The current average annual cost of driving a typical new gasoline vehicle in the United States is $1,117, with a maximum of $1,509 in Hawaii and a minimum of $993 in Alabama.
  • Average annual energy cost of electric vehicles: $485
    The current average annual cost of driving a typical new electric vehicle in the United States is $485, with a maximum of $1,106 in Hawaii and a minimum of $367 in Louisiana.

By choosing to drive an electric vehicle, you on an average, save $ 632 annually. 

Relative Fuel Economy and State Variations

Cost Ratio

To compare and explain fuel economy across states, researchers calculated per state 'Cost Ratio', which is obtained by dividing the cost of gasoline required for a gas powered vehicle to travel a mile to the cost of electricity required for an electric vehicle per mile. What that means is that electricity prices have a real impact on the relative costs of fueling a car. Those costs ratio vary hugely among states, with a maximum of 3.6 (or a 3.6 times advantage for electric vehicles over gas) in Washington state -- and a minimum of 1.4 in Hawaii. This variation can be explained by the availability of electricity in these states. In Washington State, for example, the cost of gasoline is three times as much as that of electricity, while in Hawaii, gasoline is only marginally costlier than electricity because electricity is so expensive. 

The average Cost Ratio for the country is 2.3, which means that gasoline is twice as expensive as electricity for most vehicles. Good enough reason to make the shift!

Most states in West and South (Oregon- 3.1, Idaho - 2.9, Louisiana - 2.7, Utah - 2.7) have higher cost ratios, indicating low electricity costs.  States in the Northeast, Hawaii and Alaska (New Hampshire - 1.5, Connecticut - 1.5, Rhode Island - 1.56, Massachusetts - 1.58) have comparably higher electricity costs resulting in lower cost ratios. Most states in the Midwest fall somewhere in the middle. With the help of comparative information based on 'cost ratios', researchers have deduced 'Relative Fuel Economy' for vehicles to be competitive in the growing vehicle market.  

Relative Fuel Economy

Relative Fuel Economy is the mileage that a gas powered vehicle should average to be cheaper than an electric vehicle. In states where electricity in cheaper, such as Washington, a gas powered vehicle has to be designed to average 90 miles per gallon to be competitive to an electric vehicle of similar specifications. Similarly, for Oregon, the relative fuel economy is 77 mpg, Idaho - 75 mpg, Louisiana - 69 mpg, Utah - 69 mpg and so on. It is evident that in these states, it is much wiser to choose and use an electric vehicle. In contrast, in the states of North East region, Alaska and Hawaii, where electricity is more expensive, the fuel economy figures are on the lower end of the scale. Hawaii, with the lowest fuel economy of 34 mpg indicates that the gasoline driven cars are almost as competitive as the electric cars. The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in December 2017 was 25 mpg. 

So what's the answer?

As a rough estimate, a car must get at least 57 miles per gallon for gasoline driven vehicles to be a cheaper option than electric cars in most states. In the United States, which has struggled to get to 25 miles per gallon as a national average, most people will benefit from planning on 'going electric' in the near future. As electric cars become more numerous - the choices more fitting for a variety of tastes and budgets - the future certainly looks like a boon for electric.