Boots & Sabers

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0934, 08 Jul 23

EVs Aren’t the Savings You Think


However experts are warning that it takes an average of six years to break even on a purchase – and it can take up to a decade for the premium to pay off.


Customers are also taking to social media to express their regret at their EV purchase, with difficulties tracking down charging spots and unexpected costs. So how long does it really take to save money on an electric car – and is it worth the price?




When it comes to fuel, electricity is generally cheaper than gas. On July 7, the average cost of gas in the US was $3.53 a gallon.


According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to filling up a gas tank at roughly $1 per gallon.


Gas prices also tend to be more volatile than electricity prices, which have historically been more stable.




The calculator estimates that the electric car owner will save $1,404 a year charging their vehicle rather than filling up on gas.


By dividing the price premium on the EV by the estimated annual savings on fuel, it would take over eight years to break even on the purchase.

The article shares stories from EV buyers who have buyer’s remorse. I say shame on them for not doing more homework before buying their cars. I’ll say the same thing I’ve said for years… EVs can be an excellent option for some people and a terrible option for others.

EV discussions have become common with people I know. I’ll give two examples of people who have Teslas and love them. Both are high-income people where the purchase price was not much of a factor. It’s more about the experience.

The first person lives in the Bay Area. He rarely drives for more than a couple of hours a day and has a charger in his garage. He commented that he can’t remember the last time that he charged in public. When he travels, he will generally fly if it is more than a 3 or 4 hour drive. He loves his Tesla and raves about the lack of maintenance required (oil changes, etc.) The Tesla simply has fewer moving parts to maintain. He did comment that it burns through tires rather quickly, but that’s a minor inconvenience.

The other person lives in Colorado. The person is single and travels a lot. The person likes his Tesla, but is annoyed by a few of the aesthetic features like the gull wing doors and the long windshield. This person works from home and doesn’t drive much, but occasionally goes on a long trip. In a recent example, the person drove from Colorado to Tulsa to Austin and back home. The travel time took twice as long as it would have in a gasoline car because of the time needed to charge. And in one example riding through the panhandle of Texas, the car almost ran out of charge before sliding into a station. To compensate, the person slowed way down. Overall, the person was annoyed with the travel time, but as a single person without a pressing reason to get back home, the extra time of travel was just that – an annoyance.

In both circumstances, the people like their EVs and are willing to put up with the inconveniences, and, more importantly, can afford to put up with the inconveniences.

In my own case, we do not own a garage or driveway in which to charge an EV. We would have to rely on public chargers. Also, we regularly take cross-country road trips (4 to 6 times a year) where we need to make the transit in a day or two to work around my work schedule. Owning an EV would be incompatible with our lifestyle.

This is where I would like the national conversation to progress. EVs are not morally or economically superior to gasoline vehicles (GVs). They are simply a different technology designed to complete the same task of personal transportation. The choice should center around lifestyle and preference instead of being some political or ethical talisman.


0934, 08 July 2023


  1. dad29

    it would take over eight years to break even on the purchase.

    Is it just me, or does “eight years” ring a bell for those who are replacing EV batteries at a cost of ~$8K? Eight years happens to be the warranty-life on the battery in many EV’s.

    That would reduce those savings to only about $400/month. Yes, that’s still real money, but it certainly narrows the spread.

  2. Owen

    I’d like to see the calculations with a constant dollar value. The EVs have a higher up front cost and the savings are realized over time with a dollar of diminishing value.

  3. dad29

    with a dollar of rapidly-diminishing value

    Fixed it for ya.

  4. jonnyv

    I look forward to my first EV in the next 2 years or so. When I can hand off my 2009 Honda Fit to my kid. But, I only use my car inside the city. So I don’t care if it can even travel 200 miles on a charge. Rarely do I go past that. I WANT a tiny EV car. People joke that I have a “clown car” because i am 6-6 and drive a tiny Honda Fit. I don’t care, I want efficiency and low price. Hopefully I have a few good options in the next 2 years for me.

    But we also have a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I can’t see dumping the large gas guzzling family travel vehicle until I can get an EV that gets 500-600 miles to the charge.

  5. Jason

    I’ll keep my F350 and my 43′ long 5th wheel, and enjoy the hell out of it. I smile and wave to the side looks from EV drivers.

  6. MjM

    Owen sez: The choice should center around lifestyle and preference instead of being some political or ethical talisman.

    But it’s not, and never will be.

    From the article: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to filling up a gas tank at roughly $1 per gallon.

    “Roughly”. Yes, let’s take the word of e-wacko propaganda machine.

    The avg EV gets 3 MPKWh. The avg cost of electricity in the US is $0.18/KWh. The EV per mile cost is $0.06

    The average ICE MPG is 25.5. At $3.50/gallon the per mile cost is $0.137

    The avg EV cost to drive 25.5 miles is $1.53… or “per gallon”.

    For real world comparison, our 2015 Passat TDI (which, sadly, was totaled back in Jan) averaged 36MPG, getting 40 on the highway. Diesel was about$3.80 at the time (or $0.105/mile). The cost to drive an EV 36 miles is $2.16.

    @Jason: I’m keeping my 22-year old Silverado. Salt has eaten most of the rocker panels but it’s only got 95k miles and I keep the engine clean as a whistle.

  7. dad29

    Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Jonny, I’ve driven a LOT of cars, trucks, and SUV’s. The Grand Cherokee is, hands-down, the nicest-riding vehicle for the money of all out there. Keep it!

  8. jonnyv

    Just finished a 2000 mile week long family trip to the east coast where I drove the entire trip. It was a great drive.

  9. Jason

    @MJM, My 21 F350 (bought Dec 2020) has 55k miles on it already. We’ll be in Colorado next month, I’ll easily put another 3k miles on it with that trip. I am looking forward to driving up to and through the Eisenhower tunnels. With the 7.3L gas engine I can get 16-17 mpg on the Wisconsin freeways, towing my 5th wheel, 8-9.

    I’m jealous though, your Silverado will be way more reliable than my truck, with it’s 20+ little computers for everything from the heated/cooled seats, the mirror control modules, the PCM, BCM, ECM, Steering Wheel Control module, cruise control module, etc etc.

  10. Jason

    @jv – Nice, road trips are my favorite family vacation – second is a Caribbean Cruise.

    We ran out to Salisbury, MA, the very NE corner of MA two summers ago by way of the East coast of Lake Erie and a day in Niagra falls. Visited RI, Boston, Kennebunkport, and lots of spots in between. I had to do Clark Griswold style planning on fuel stops east of Indiana – some of those Eastern gas stations are not friendly for gas truck pulling a 43′ fifth wheel – the lots are small and the canopies are low.

  11. Mar

    Another cost that is hard to establish is the wait time to charge the battery.
    I can be in and out of a gas station when I fill my gas tank and get my beer in 5 minutes.
    Those who charge their card are parked for a long time.
    We a travel destination because it’s in a route 66 and it’s funny seeing a car sir there for extended period of time. They might have a picnic, sit in their air conditioned car and basically doing nothing.
    I’ll take my 5 minutes over an hour or more anytime.

  12. MjM

    … with it’s 20+ little computers for everything..

    BWAHA! Nose Hit!

    We bought a slightly used 2022 Taos to replace the destroyed Passat. I HATE it. Nag Nag Nag. Beep boop beep DINGDINGDING! The dang turn signal tick-tocks louder than an old mechanical metronome.

    Last weekend I took it to go grab some last-minute groceries and brewskies for the 4th. Going down a two lane road, the car in front of me slowed to take a right turn so I drifted left to go around, and the damn Taos pulled me back to the right on its own. It braked the right wheels or dropped power to the right drives, not sure which. I thought a tire blew. Unbeknownst to me Da Wife had accidentally, somehow, turned on the the lane sensors the last time she drove it and I hadn’t noticed the little lane marker lit up amongst all the other mish-mash of stuff on the dash.

    My ol’ Silver only nags me when I leave the key in the ignition.

    Nagging aside, be mucho happy with that 350 (I’ve always wanted a diesel 250HD for some reason). If you had bought one of those F-Lightnings it’d take you 4 days or so just to get to Colorado pulling that weight. 99 miles, stop, charge for 6 hours. 99 miles, stop, charge for 6 hours, ….

  13. dad29

    the the lane sensors

    Wait till you experience the ineffable happiness of ‘automatic’ cruise control–which reduces your speed to that of the car ahead of you. I-94 at 70? Not if you get behind Ferd and Tillie touring the State at 55. And–of course–there’s a secret button-push sequence required to shut the damn thing off.

  14. jonnyv

    The Jeep has all of those tools as well. I have generally not been much of a cruise control guy, even on this 2000 mile trip, I barely used it. I don’t mind all the beeps and boops in general, they are good safety measures, even if a bit annoying. I have a friend who used to buckle his seat belt and then sit ON it because he refused to wear it and didn’t like the constant dinging.

    I complained during the first 2 hours about the forced feedback when switching lanes, and my wife looked at me accusingly and said, “Well, did you use your blinker???” Of course I didn’t as I was just bouncing around someone. But point taken.

  15. Merlin

    The first time my Highlander’s forward looking radar caked with freezing rain/snow it lit up the dash like a Christmas tree. That was fun. Heated seats, steering wheel, mirrors, windshield and wipers, but I still had to get out and wipe off the sensor twice in twenty five miles.

  16. dad29

    FWIW, cruise control is a very good fuel economy enhancer….

    True story: several years ago, Chevy manufactured an “Eco Cruise” car. They added low-resistance tires, a bottom-plate to reduce wind resistance, and frontal lower-bumper louvers which would close for better economy.

    So one fine winter day, the service manager at a Chevy store opened the garage and in came FIVE Eco Cruises in a row. all of them complaining of a warning light they’d never seen before. So the diagnostic tool came out and all of them had a ‘condition’ with the louvers–they would not close.

    Winter. Snow. Slush.

    GM asked for pictures. F’n design engineers were all in Southern California, never occurred to them that snow, slush, winter,…..


  17. Jason

    I’ve had a Ford Fusion with the lane assist that would nudge you back in, that got turned off before I got it home from the dealer.

    My 19 F150 had the automatic cruise control. That was nice when my brother in law and I convoyed out to Yellowstone, I used it when he was leading and it let me stayed tucked right in behind him. He was a OTR trucker with over 2 million safe miles.

    This F350 has the lane monitoring that will vibrate the wheel if you’re drifting, but is not active assist. That’s off. It does not have the adaptive cruise, I only like using cruise with the 5th wheel in tow if I’m heading down Indiana or Illinois. I can do better myself with that weight behind me _ almost 15k.

  18. Jason

    >F’n design engineers were all in Southern California, never occurred to them that snow, slush, winter,…..

    The saying goes “An engineer will walk past 100 beautiful naked women just to fuck one mechanic”.

  19. MjM

    Well, Daddio, at least I don’t hafta worry about that auto cruise thing. I never use cruise. My foot works better, especially on steep inclines. And oh, yeah, take yer eyes off the road to find that secret button, the one on the left…. no… right? … stack. Or is it one of the fifteen on the steering wheel?

    I’m still looking for a ‘42 Willys. meep meep

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