At first glance, EVs may strike some new buyers as expensive depending on the brand, however more affordably priced electric cars are coming online that are still eligible for federal and state tax credits and more older electric cars are entering secondary car markets. Not only are EVs competitive with gas cars today in price, but save drivers money over the total lifetime of the vehicle. Read on to find out more about electric car costs and why EVs leave gas cars in the dust.
Average cost of an electric car
When people think of electric cars, the first ones that pop into their heads are those pricey Tesla models. However, Teslas aren’t the only EVs on the market. Below we outline the price of a variety of Electric Car Models to help you better understand the market and costs.
Luxury electric cars
For those with a bigger budget, there are many high-end electric cars available on the market. Along with efficient batteries, added range, and in some, autonomous features, these beauties are offered with a variety of color options and interior features. These added components are clearly popular, as the Tesla Model 3 is the best-selling electric car on the market and the Tesla charger is an extremely popular product. It is also important to also consider how much it would cost you to charge your Tesla. Read our latest breakdown of Tesla charging station cost to learn more. Here are some of the most common luxury EVs, ranked from most to least expensive:
- Tesla Model X MSRP: $81,000
- Tesla Model S MSRP: $75,000
- Audi e-Tron MSRP: $74,800
- BMW i3 MSRP: $44,450
- Tesla Model 3 MSRP: $35,000
Affordable electric cars
For those searching for a more affordable option, look no further. Many of the largest global auto manufacturers are jumping on the electric car train for the budget-savvy consumer. Nissan, GM, and Volkswagen are just a few of the many companies having their go at the flourishing new market. Here are some of the more affordable EVs, ranked from most to least expensive:
- Hyundai Kona MSRP: $38,305
USED: ~ $16,300 - $20,500
- Chevrolet Bolt MSRP: $36,620
USED: ~ $16,900 - $25,000
- Volkswagen e-Golf MSRP: $31,895
USED: ~ $10,500 - $17,900
- Nissan Leaf MSRP: $29,990
USED: ~$9,980 - $14,360
Why electric cars are more affordable
If the affordable options above still seem a bit pricey, try to look a bit further than their sticker price. Thanks to rapid technological development in the industry, electric cars are getting cheaper. Even now, it is already less expensive to operate an electric car over its lifetime than its gas-guzzling contemporaries. Some reasons for this include:
- Improved Battery Technology
- Lower Maintenance Costs
- No More Fuel Costs
- Affordable Charging Methods
- Federal and State Tax Credits and Incentives
Improved lithium-ion battery technology
Lithium-ion batteries are—and have always been—the main driver of costs for EVs. However, because of continual improvements in battery technology, their cost has seen a 70% decrease since their inception. For example, the Nissan LEAF prices have decreased by 2.5% in the last seven years, while internal combustion cars like the Nissan Maxima have increased in price by 7.5%.
Improvements in battery technology have also resulted in a considerable drop in cost per mile driven for EVs—with an average of 100 miles per 30 kilowatt-hours (kWh). For example, if you pay $0.12 for 1kWh of electricity, you can drive for around 36 miles for only $1.00. Compare that to gasoline-powered cars with an average fuel efficiency of 22 mpg, and you can only drive for 18 miles for $1.00.
Double the mileage? Sounds like a good deal.
Range anxiety is one of the top concerns consumers have for EVs. Thanks to stellar battery improvements, electric cars now boast ranges covering far beyond the average 28 mile commute in the U.S.: 150 miles (Nissan Leaf) to 370 miles (Tesla Model S).
Lower maintenance costs
By switching to electric, you will no longer need to deal with repairing and replacing components associated with an internal combustion engine like:
- Spark Plugs
- Fuel Filters
- Timing Belts
To boot, many EVs do most of the braking with their electric motors, meaning brake pads and rotors last longer and won’t need to be replaced as often, saving you even more money.
Say farewell to fuel | gas pumping vs electric charging
A huge benefit of switching to electric is not having to buy gas anymore. The cost of an electric car vs a gas car is quite low by comparison when you consider how much you have to spend annually on fuel alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, fueling a gas car costs about twice as much as powering an EV, at $2.62 per gallon compared to $1.21 per e-Gallon. In 2018, the University of Michigan published a study that found that EVs cost less than half as much to operate in the U.S. as gas-powered cars—an average of $485 per year compared to a whopping $1,117.
Not only is powering your car with electricity cheaper than fueling it with gas, but it is also much more stable. Unlike gasoline prices, which have fluctuated between $1.50 and $4.00 per gallon in the past decade, electricity has stayed at about $1.20 to drive an equivalent distance. This consistency on top of cost-savings is a welcome comfort in an unpredictable world.
So, how much does it cost to charge an electric car? The cost to charge electric cars varies on the type of car you drive, where you charge it, and what city or state you are in. Chargers typically come in two main “levels.”
- Level 1 – Standard household current at 120 volts. Vehicles with a smaller battery, like those under 10 kWh, can typically use Level 1 charging systems.
- Level 2 – 240 volts, this level is better for faster charging, overnight charging, and quick top-ups. Typical for plug-in cars with larger batteries.
Pay attention to your EV’s onboard charger speed when using public charging stations because they often charge by the hour. Therefore, a car with a slower onboard charger will cost more for the same electricity amount than a car with a fast charger. For example, a 2017 Nissan Leaf's charge time with a 3.3-kW onboard charger takes twice as long to charge—and costs twice as much to fill—as a 2018 Nissan Leaf with a 6.6-kW onboard charger. Nowadays, many EVs come standard with a 6.6 or 7.2 kW charger.
How to calculate home charging costs
To determine the cost of at-home charging, you can multiply your car’s kilowatt-hour per 100 miles figure by the electricity rate for the time of day you think you’ll be charging your car most often. That result will be your cost per 100 miles, which you can then compare to that of a similar gas-powered car for good measure.
Aside from actual electricity costs, there are a few initial costs you need to consider, like the actual charging station, the cost of installation, and the optional cost of installing a solar panel system to your home. Depending on location, product, and electric car, prices vary as follows:
- Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE): $200 - $1,000
- Installation: $800 - $1,300
- (Optional) Solar Panel System: $7,000+
Although electricity cost is significantly more stable than that of gasoline, it varies widely from state to state. Be sure to check out this list to see what the average cost per kilowatt-hour is in your state. Your electricity provider may also offer discounts on your bill if you charge your vehicle during off-peak hours. These discounts vary by state and utility company.
Incentives, tax credits, and rebates
There are many federal and state tax credits and incentives that sweeten the deal when you switch to electric. Not only do you save money on fuel, but you also see that sticker price go down. Doing your part to reduce emissions doesn’t hurt either.
The primary federal incentive program in the U.S. for electric cars is the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Tax Credit, which grants new electric vehicle owners a $7,500 tax credit should their car meet the following criteria:
- Meets emission standards
- Uses a traction battery
- Battery has capacity of at least 4 kWh
- Was purchased after December 31, 2009
- Recharges using an external plug-in source
- Vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or less
On top of federal incentives, your state may offer you additional tax credits and rebates. Check out this list from the Alternative Fuels Data Center to find out more.
Though you may shy away from EVs due to their initially intimidating price tags, there is nothing to fear. Actually, there’s a lot to love. With lower emissions, increasing ranges, and a smoother ride than gas cars, electric cars are a sweet deal and an excellent investment. And with smart charging systems like the JuiceBox, they are easier than ever to charge at home.
Now go get an electric car and start saving money—happy driving!