It has been a while since I calculated it, but if you leave out subsidies, the difference in purchase price cannot compensate for lower operating costs. I recently did a calculation between a hybrid and regular Honda Civic, and calculated that for my driving (mostly highway), keeping the car 10 years and driving 15k miles/year as I normally do, gas needs to be at least $6/gallon to break even. I estimated that in the time I would own the car in Texas, that is unlikely to happen. I did a similar calculation for a Ford Fusion regular and hybrid, with similar results. This analysis is complicated by the fact that hybrid models are often loaded up with features that are not in the basic gas models, so you have to factor that into the comparison.
My point is that I think the cost and performance of EVs have dropped to the range where they are attractive to those who want an electric car for environmental reasons. But they have a long way to go to compete with gas vehicles.
When I first came across a quote by Jon Bereisa, CEO of consulting firm Auto Lectrification and the systems architect for the Volt during its creation, saying:
People forget that this was brand-new technology. Of course the price will fall... The price of your smartphone doesn't go up. It goes down.
I said to myself, "Well...not quite."
What makes the debate on EV more challenging is that bringing the EV's cost down is not as simple as bringing down the cost structure of a smartphone. There are so many new innovations and breakthroughs that are still needed for EVs. In contrast, smartphones have already gotten to the point that the falling price is really a normal course of business.
A price drop will certainly increase sales, but mostly to those who want an electric car. For mass market success, the total cost of ownership must be competitive with gas/hybrids, without government subsidy, free charging, good parking, and other effective subsidies. Outside of winter climates, the range of EVs is fine as a second car for most people, who just charge them at home.
With the "surge" of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (it is 2x that of last year), it would be interesting to revisit the energy footprint of personal vehicles versus certain forms of public transportation when viewed in energy/person mile and carbon foot print/person mile.
Public transit is just assumed to be more environmentally friendly, but diesel powered buses and even diesel hybrid buses and diesel powered trains start to lose their shine when compared to pure electric personal vehicle especially when you have more than one person in those vehicles.
It is likely a good time to revisit this topic and would be a good discussion point.
I do not live in the U.S. so I cannot make direct use of this tool, however, I have done the comparisons and looked at the ROI.
With the price drop and the lowest cost model of the Volt, the breakeven is very very close for me and my driving patterns. If gas prices go up over the expected 6-8 years I will have this vehicle I will likely come out ahead. More northern climate, so my battery life will be extended, but not so cold that I will have my capacity impacted that much after a bit of battery self warming.
My real complaint about this car is that the mileage on gas alone is only so-so. I wish that was class leading as well. Ideally I would have liked to have seen a small displacement diesel or better optimization but we can't have everything. Maybe gen-3?
We can't forget that it is a great real world learning platform for GM and the experience they are gathering is invaluable. Costly yes, but what in automotive is not.
The e-gallon I do not believe is an accurate measurement though as it assumes an equal comparison in efficiency between both fuels for all vehicles. In theory that "works" when ratings are taken into account, but the reality is +/- 20% which in ROI terms is HUGE!
Last month, the Energy Department launched the eGallon to let consumers compare the cost of fueling with electricity vs. gasoline. Since electricity prices vary from state to state, the page allows consumers to get information specific to their own state. For example, an eGallon is $1.53 in California (compared to $3.98 for gasoline) and $1.13 in Texas (compared to $3.33 for gasoline). eGallon prices are available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia onEnergy.gov/eGallon.
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